How America’s new sanctions on Russia affect American gun owners

In this July 6, 2007 file photo Mikhail Kalashnikov holds a prototype of his famous AK-47 assault rifle, during a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the worldwide assault rifle's creation in the Russia's Armed Forces Central Museum in Moscow. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, File)

On Wednesday night, the United States announced a new round of sanctions on Russia. While previous sanctions had largely been aimed at individuals with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, these new sanctions took aim at key areas of the Russian economy.

One particular target may cause some Americans to worry, however. Kalashnikov Concern is the largest firearms producer in Russia. It makes all sorts of weapons, but there's one it is particularly well-known for: the ubiquitous AK-47.

But don't worry, American gun owners. If you already own your Kalashnikov, it shouldn't be a problem. Here's what the freshly updated U.S. Treasury Frequently Asked Questions has to say:

374. If I own a Kalashnikov product, is that product blocked by sanctions? Am I able to resell a Kalashnikov product at a gun show or other secondary market? 

If a U.S. person is in possession of a Kalashnikov Concern product that was bought and fully paid for prior to the date of designation (i.e., no payment remains due to Kalashnikov Concern), then that product is not blocked and OFAC sanctions would not prohibit the U.S. person from keeping or selling the product in the secondary market, so long as Kalashnikov Concern has no interest in the transaction. New transactions by U.S. persons with Kalashnikov Concern are prohibited, however, and any property in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest is blocked pursuant to OFAC’s designation of Kalashnikov Concern on July 16, 2014. If a U.S. person has an inventory of Kalashnikov Concern products in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest (for example, the products are not fully paid for or are being sold on consignment), we advise that U.S. person to contact OFAC for further guidance on handling of the inventory. [7-16-2014]

375. If I have Kalashnikov products in my inventory, can I sell them?

If a U.S. person has an inventory of Kalashnikov Concern products in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest (for example, the products are not fully paid for or are being sold on consignment), we advise that U.S. person to contact OFAC for further guidance on handling of the inventory. [7-16-2014]

So, in essence, if you already fully own your AK-47, it is fine to keep it, and if you want to sell it, that will be fine as long as Kalashnikov Concern is not involved. The real losers here may instead be Russian Weapon Company (RWC), a group that signed an agreement in January to import 200,000 Kalashnikov guns to the United States each year, according to Russia Today, and Kalashnikov Concern, which had been hoping that American civilian gun collectors could help shore up the firm after a fall in demand for its new gun designs.

As for the AK-47? Given that there's already thought to be 100 million AKs or derivatives around the world, with the supply bolstered by second-hand guns and non-Russian-made knockoffs (some say half of the AK-47s around the world are probably counterfeit), it should be okay.

Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.

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