Obama Bans AK-47 From Importation Into US

But Existing Owners May be Okay

The AK-47, The Gun of Choice for Despots and Freedom Fighters Around the World. Burak Kara/Getty Images

The Russian-made AK-47 assault rifle – the iconic gun of foreign despots and freedom fighters – and wildly popular among American gun owners, may no longer be imported into the United States, under sanctions against the Russian Federation imposed by President Obama.

In an expansion of his administration’s economic sanctions imposed against the Russia government for its actions and policies in the Ukraine, President Obama issued an executive order (E.O. 13662) which, among other things, added all products of the Kalashnikov Concern – makers of the AK-47 – to the list of Russian-made products banned from importation into the United States.

Along with the AK-47, the order bans the importation of all other Kalashnikov Concern military-grade weapons, which according to the U.S. Treasury Department, includes multiple grades and versions of assault rifles, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, military shotguns, and aircraft cannons.

“Utilizing these Executive Orders, the United States has steadily increased the diplomatic and financial costs of Russia’s aggressive actions towards Ukraine,” wrote the U.S. Department of State in a press release. “A secure Ukraine, integrated with Europe and enjoying good relations with all its neighbors, is in the interests of the United States, Europe, and Russia.”

Favored for its mass-availability, low cost and ability to fire reliably under the most extreme battlefield conditions, the AK-47 was the poster child among the weapons to be banned by the failed Assault Weapons Ban Act of 2013, championed by U.S. Sen.

Dianne Feinstein (D-California).

Had it passed, Sen. Feinstein’s bill would have replaced the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which had expired on September 13, 2004.

What If I Already Own an AK-47?

Clearly recognizing that the Kalashnikov Concern firearms importation ban could trigger fears of mass-confiscation of AK-47s, the Treasury Department specifically clarified that it would not.

In an extensive FAQ on the Russian sanctions, the Treasury states that U.S. persons already in possession of Kalashnikov Concern products – like an AK-47 – that was bought and paid for – as in no payments to Kalashnikov Concern remain to be made – prior to the effective date of the sanction (July 16, 2014) will be allowed to keep them and sell then in the secondary market “so long as Kalashnikov Concern has no interest in the transaction.”

In other words, the intent of the sanction is not to prevent Americans from owing AK-47s, but to prevent the Russian government from getting any of the money generated by selling them here.