There is renewed discussion among lawmakers at all levels of government about gun control, with particular interest in banning assault rifles and large capacity magazines. The U.S. has tried this in the past. It is unlikely that a new effort to ban assault rifles will accomplish the desired results.
The most widely used assault weapons in the world became popular for basic reasons: They are relatively simple in design and can be manufactured with readily available equipment at low cost, and they are easy to use, durable, and tolerant of poor maintenance. With those attributes, probably the most widely known assault rifle in the world is the AK-47. It is a perfect illustration of why banning assault rifles simply won’t work.
The Kalashnikov rifle that became the AK-47 was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov and adopted by Russian military in 1949 and became a standard for the Warsaw Pact nations. Absent patent protection in Russia, versions are manufactured worldwide in nations as diverse as Bangladesh and Finland. The latest new factory is under construction in Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela.
The following quote from “Weaponomics: The Global Market For Assault Rifles,” sums up the AK47: “The pervasiveness of this weapon may be explained in large part by its simplicity. The AK-47 was initially designed for ease of operation and repair by glove-wearing Soviet soldiers in Arctic 4 conditions. Its breathtaking simplicity means that it can also be operated by child soldiers in the African desert. Kalashnikovs are a weapon of choice for armed forces and nonstate actors alike. They are to be found in the arsenals of armed and special forces of more than 80 countries. In practically every theatre of insurgency or guerrilla combat a Kalashnikov will be found.”
“Indeed, an image of the rifle appears on the Mozambique national flag, and “Kalash”, an abbreviation of Kalashnikov, is a common boy’s name in some African countries.”
Then there is the M-10, popularly known as the MAC-10 machine pistol. Designed and first made by Gordon Ingram in Powder Springs, the MAC-10 is described as the highest volume weapon of its type ever made. The MAC-10 and its variants have been produced in Georgia and at various other locations around the country. At one point they were being produced in a non-descript warehouse just a short drive east from the state capital.
The MAC-10 was called out by name when the federal government banned assault weapons but was quickly redesigned to escape the assault weapon designation and successor models continued in production. Like the AK-47, the MAC-10 and variants succeeded because of low cost, simplicity of design and robustness in service.
Weapons like these already exist in the tens of millions. There is no possibility of preventing the manufacture of millions more. Today you can order parts to assemble your own custom version.
A ban on assault weapons may prevent ownership by collectors and gun enthusiasts, people who seem more interested these days in the far more sophisticated American rifles of the AR-15 type. AK-47s and their many derivatives will remain available through a new criminal enterprise, the black market for illegal assault weapons. Indeed, the illegality will probably make them more desirable for the hoodlum gangbangers who enjoy the thrill of street fights and drive-by shootings.