Russia hasn't been behaving itself lately, what with annexing Crimea, building up troops on the eastern border with Ukraine, arming and aiding Ukrainian rebels, playing a role in the downing of Malaysian Flight M17, and, today, is even firing artillary into the Ukraine from inside the Russian border to help the rebellion. Putin is returning to the glory days of headlong Communist expansionism. As the most recent release of Time Magazine put it in their article "In Russia, Crime Without Punishment:"
Can the West stop a figure who is determined to uphold the dreary habits of czars and Soviet leaders while projecting Russian exceptionalism and power?
So far, the U.S. and other Western powers have responded only with condemnation and economic sanctions.
I feel that any thinking individual with a shred of love of democracy would approve of at least that much of a response. At this very moment, Russia is invading a sovereign, democratic nation in an act of unprovoked warfare. If we are lovers of democracy and patriotic to the needs of our country and our allies, wouldn't it make sense to support the U.S. sanctions?
What are those sanctions from the U.S., exactly? From an article:
The Obama administration last week announced a new round of sanctions against Russia that it says are intended to discourage Russia from continuing to support rebel groups in eastern Ukraine. Companies blacklisted by the U.S. include Russian banks, energy firms and eight weapons manufacturers -- including Kalashnikov Concern, a maker of what is arguably the most popular weapon in the world, the AK-47.
It makes sense, doesn't it? If Russia wishes to act against our allies and our democratic ideals, we as a nation shouldn't support Russia economically, and we should do what we can to stop them from arming rebels, including small arms like AK rifles.
So what does the supposedly "patriotic" gun crowd do -- the same men who quote (selected) portions of the Constitution and (selectively) pore over the history of the Revolution and Founding Fathers? They whole-heartedly support sanctions against Russia and Russian gun companies, right? Right???
Their love of guns supersedes any actual patriotic feelings. Take, for instance, when the inventor of the AK-47, Mikhail Kalashnikov, died. Kalashnikov confessed that he felt "spiritual pain" for having invented the AK-47 -- the gun that has killed untold millions of people, including Americans in every war and conflict we have fought since Korea, and ushered in with a rain of bullets every Communist, jihadist, and anti-American insurgency since. The AK-47 symbolizes everything that is the antithesis of American democracy. Did the pro-gun crowd cheer that this villain had died? No, they mourned instead. A sampling of their responses:
"Damn that sucks. Father of the most famous assault rifle. RIP Mikhail!" (source)
"The world has lost a true genius and a hero today." (source)
"Guess I'll fire a 21 gun salute from my own AK-47 variant." (source)
"Rest in Peace. The master tinkerer's invention has probably done more to shape world events than any ideology." (source)
"It was an honor to live in the same century with him." (source)
This, despite the fact that it isn't uncommon for the AK-47 and other AK variants to be used in crimes here in America. At the Kid Shootings blog, for instance, you can find 15 examples where an AK-47 was used in a crime involving children, including their deaths, and those are by no means inclusive.
So, flash forward to today. Despite the sanctions levied against Russia for their warlike and anti-democratic behavior, and despite the wicked history of the AK-47 on the battlefield as well as American streets, the gun is now selling out on American gun store shelves. And it's not just AK-47s, but other Russian guns as well. From a Huffington Post article:
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.
Blaine Bunting, president of Maryland gun distributor Atlantic Firearms, said Tuesday 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. ....
Last week in Nampa, Idaho, 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, David, who refused to give his last name, citing store policy.
"We sold out of them instantly," he said.
Right now, Saiga shotguns cost $800 to $900, David said, estimating they would double in price within six weeks because of Obama’s executive action.
Wow. So why are they selling so many? As one gun dealer put it after a surge in AK-47 sales in his store, "The simple thing is, people want what they can't have."
And there you have it. It's not about having a gun for home defense, and it's not about hunting (assault rifles are a poor choice for either home defense or hunting, compared to other options). It's about panic-buying an item that the gub'ment has told them not to buy. It's the result of a deeply anti-authoritarian view, fostered in large part by the perpetuation of the false refrain that the government is going to take away everyone's guns. And it's about the very-male fascination by low-brows of making things go "boom" for "fun." You've got to have the highest-quality gun for that, right? Again, from the Huffington Post article, quoting a gun seller:
"The Russian AK-47 is one of the highest quality AKs out there," said Ben, from North Raleigh Guns. "It's been around forever. The ammo is affordable. Plus, it's really fun to shoot."
Patriotism goes out the window when you have a need to fuel a gun fetish for "fun." Panic buying doesn't bring in new gun owners, generally, but merely appeals to those who are already amassing arsenals of these deadly weapons. These aren't the run-of-the-mill gun owners who have one or two guns for home defense or hunting. These are the extremist, insurrectionist types, and we should all be fearful. Remember, too, that modern guns are made with high enough quality that they will likely outlive those who buy them. Where, then, will they wind up?
Mikhail Kalashnikov said on his deathbed, "My spiritual pain is unbearable" because of the gun he invented to "protect the Motherland." I wonder if any of the gun nuts who are buying up Mikhail's weapons will one day feel the same guilt for bringing such dangerous weapons into their homes and for betraying the needs of our country, just so they can feel part of some anti-government "fun" trend?