You can keep your AK-47, Treasury says
New transactions with the Kalashnikov company were banned after July 16 as US sanctions kick in. But current gun owners are fine.
Despite slapping sanctions on the famed assault-rifle maker Kalashnikov last week, along with other Russian defense companies, in response to suspected Russian involvement in the shoot-down of the Malaysian jetliner over the Ukraine, the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) says U.S. owners of the weapons can still own them and resell them at gun shows so long as they don't owe the parent company any money.
"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," the Treasury Department states on its website in a frequently asked questions section.
Kalashnikov -- named for Mikhail Kalashnikov (pictured), a World War II veteran who developed his now-famous rifle after he was wounded in combat in 1941 -- is the largest firearms producer in Russia and is a subsidiary of Russia's State Corporation of Russian Technologies, or Rostec.
New transactions with the Kalashnikov company were prohibited as of July 16, which is likely to hurt gun dealers who won't be able to import any new Kalashnikov models.
Atlantic Firearms of Bishopville, Md., which sells AK-47 and AK-74 model rifles, notes on its website that "due to the recent Import Ban on Russian Based AK firearms we are experiencing heavy order volumes." A Russian-made AK-47 model lists for between $849 and $1,049 on the Atlantic Firearms site. On its Facebook page, Atlantic Firearms reports that it sold over 400 weapons the day after the ban was announced and that its inventory is "drastically low."
Atlantic Firearms President Blaine Bunting tells MarketWatch he'll still be allowed to import Polish, Romanian and other Eastern bloc–made copies of the Kalashnikov, which run about $500 to $800, to his warehouse near Ocean City.
He says the Obama administration has an ulterior motive in banning the Russian imports, which make up about 30 percent of his sales because of what he called the "mystique" of the famed weapon. "This is just one step in the anti-gun strategy to slowly cut off all imports, then go for the domestic market," he says. "It's awfully convenient this got thrown into the sanctions mix."
In a July 18 posting on its site, Rostec said that the U.S. market is one of "high demand" for the company and that "the sanctions of the United States government against Kalashnikov Concern go against the interest of American consumers," stating that preorders are currently running three times higher than annual deliveries.
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