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Sanctions against Russia spark AK-47 buying frenzy in US

Published time: July 25, 2014 17:52
Edited time: July 27, 2014 13:13
Cindy Sparr boxes up an AK-47 style rifle after selling it at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson)

Cindy Sparr boxes up an AK-47 style rifle after selling it at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson)

Russian-made firearms are reportedly flying off the shelves of American gun stores after the United States Treasury Department announced sanctions last week against the maker of the popular AK-47 rifle.

Kalashnikov Concern, the company responsible for the eponymous gas-operated 7.62 caliber assault rifle known largely around the world as the AK-47, is among the latest Russian-owned entities to be blacklisted by the US government following last Wednesday’s announcement that several Russian banks, energy firms and weapons makers were being targeted by new sanctions.

Gun sellers now say the Obama administration’s decision to sanction the company has caused a spike in sale in the week since, with some retailers warning customers that their stocks have been decimated upon the addition of Kalashnikov Concern to the Treasury’s roster of blacklisted businesses.

The latest round of sanctions does not bar the selling of Russian-made AK-47s within the US that have already been paid for in full, meaning long-time owners and the distribution companies not in debt to Kalashnikov Concern can continue to operate and offer the weapons as they did ahead of last week’s announcement. Imports of all of the company’s Russian-made weapons are now indefinitely on hold, however, and reportedly has prompted a peak in demand as a result.

Blaine Bunting, the president of Maryland gun distributor Atlantic Firearms, told the Huffington Post this week that orders for their AK-47-style rifles and shotguns have "tripled, if not quadrupled" since the day sanctions were announced.

"We have 15 employees here, and yesterday we started at 7:30 in the morning and didn't leave until eight at night," he told HuffPo on Tuesday. In all, the website reported, Atlantic Firearms parted ways with its entire stock of over 400 Russian-made guns, causing the distributors to post a warning to would-be buyers on its official site.

Due to recent import restrictions, we have had a run on our supply of Russian manufactured firearms. We are currently SOLD OUT of the Russian AK47 CAK-132 Wood as of 7/17/14. We are working with our importer to try and acquire what we can but are expecting price increases,” part of the Atlantic Firearms site reads.

Hunter Stuart, a reporter at HuffPo, wrote that similar shops across the US are witnessing the same thing. At Nampa, Idaho’s Armageddon Armory gun shop, for example, the store’s entire inventory of bought 60 Saiga semi-automatic shotguns made by Kalashnikov was bought within days of last week’s announcement.

"We sold out of them instantly," he said.

Other shops in Oklahoma and North Carolina told Stuart that their stocks were being depleted quickly after the Treasury Department’s announcement.

According to Kalashnikov Concern, however, the latest sanctions are only hurting the US market, not Russia’s.

“The products of Kalashnikov enjoy great demand in the United States,” the company said in a statement after last week’s announcement. “Preorders on civilian products are three times the annual volume of deliveries. Thus, the sanctions taken against Kalashnikov go against the interests of American consumers.”

Also blacklisted by the Treasury in the latest rounds of sanctions are armaments and parts manufactured by Izhmash Research & Production Association of Russia, a centuries-old company known as one of the best-selling firearms manufacturers in the world.

RWC Group LLC, the sole company that exports Concern Kalashnikov to the US, said last week that they were refraining from making any immediate comment regarding the sanctions. The company did not respond right away to RT’s request for comment on Friday this week.

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