By Joseph P. Tartaro
President Obama has unintentionally set off another gun buying spree among Americans, according to a CNN report. This time the favored guns flying off the gun shop shelves are AK-47s and variants, including both imports and American-made models. What seemed to start it all, besides the President’s renowned anti-gun reputation, was the crisis in the Ukraine. The conflict there came at a bad time for the RWC Group LLC which had just announced a new distribution deal with Concern Kalashnikov, previously known as Izhmash, to import and sell recent and forthcoming AK model innovations in the US and global markets.
RWC Group was established in June 2011 and began operations in January 2012 as the exclusive US importer of Izhmash Saiga rifles and shotguns. Founded in 1807, Izhmash is one of the world’s oldest firearms manufacturers and, since its start, has exported globally as well as suppling small arms to the Russian Army. The RWC Group announcement focused on new models of some classic Saiga rifles and shotguns. But on July 17, Obama announced expanded sanctions against Russia, targeting two banks, two energy companies, Ukraine separatists and defense companies, including Concern Kalashnikov and seven other Russian gun manufacturers.
European Union leaders also said they intended to increase White House Sanctions Spur AK Buying Spree sanctions against Russia. About a week after Obama’s announcement, CNN reported that his sanctions had sparked an AK-47 buying frenzy in the US. “In an effort to keep arms away from Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine, the United States may have kicked off something of an arms race back home,” CNN reported.
News of the AK import sanctions sent American gun buyers into a frenzy, seeking to buy the AK-47s that are already for sale in the US. While there’s no hard data showing an uptick in Russian gun sales, gun sellers around the country say they’re seeing big business in AK- 47s and other Russian firearms, CNN reported.
According to the news network, Blaine Bunting, president of Maryland gun distributor Atlantic Firearms, said that orders for their AK-47-style rifles and shotguns have “tripled, if not quadrupled” since Obama announced the sanctions. “We have 15 employees here, and yesterday we started at 7:30 in the morning and didn’t leave until eight at night,” he said. After selling more than 400 Russian guns in just a couple days, Bunting said, Atlantic Firearms is sold out. Its website has a notice to buyers warning that the import ban may cause delayed shipping times.
The same CNN news report cited comments from firearms dealers around the county. In Nampa, ID, the gun store Armageddon Armory bought 60 Saiga semi-automatic shotguns, which are made by Kalashnikov. They were gone in just a few days, according to the shop’s manager. CNN said that the Treasury Department confirmed that people and businesses who own Kalashnikov guns can still trade in them in the US as long as the Kalashnikov company doesn’t benefit from the transaction. In Wyandotte, OK, a retailer named Firing Line said it had been inundated with callers trying to buy Kalashnikov guns, even though the store currently doesn’t sell them.
At Carolina Gunrunners, also in Raleigh, NC, sales on all kinds of guns have risen since Obama announced the sanctions, said store owner Jim McComas, according to CNN. McComas said just having guns in the news is enough to get customers knocking down his door. This has certainly proven true in the past: Criminal background checks, one of the most reliable ways to gauge gun sales nationwide, surged after Obama’s 2012 re-election and the 2012 Newtown shooting. The increased sales were believed to be driven by people fearing more government regulations and outright gun bans.
The White House sanctions apparently do not apply to AK-47s and their variants manufactured in countries like Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, or those of a handful of US companies that make AK- 47-style firearms. Aside from just wanting what they can’t have, people may be snatching up Russian AK-47-style guns as an investment. “People will buy them like any other commodity because they think the value is gonna go up,” McComas said.