The Washington Post reported on Sunday that sales of AK-47s have boomed since the sanctions were announced in July, with some buyers purchasing as many as eight or 10 of the rifles at a time. The run has been spurred in part by the theory from gun owners that the sanctions are a backdoor attempt at gun control, according to the newspaper.
The National Rifle Association has done its part to cast the sanctions as part of a broader effort to ban guns in the U.S. The group's lobbying arm recently sent a message to members, which read:
"We of course recognize the important role that enacting sanctions can have in furthering legitimate U.S. foreign policy interests. However, in this instance the extent to which these actions coincide with the stated domestic policy goals of gun control supporters is more than a little unsettling."
As the Post noted, however, the sanctions don't include restrictions on sales of the guns within the U.S. It only bans imports of the Russian-made original, manufactured by a company called Kalashnikov Concern. It doesn't affect the more common European or American knockoffs, or even a Russian knockoff made by a different manufacturer, the newspaper reported.
In fact, the sanctions appear to have had the opposite effect of a gun ban in terms of U.S. gun sales, according to the Post.
"The gun community moved very, very quickly," said Blaine Bunting, president of Atlantic Firearms, a gun retailer in Maryland. "I don’t see this ban going away."
h/t Lois Beckett