Sunday, April 18, 2010

Muslim Brandishes an AK-47 in Michigan

From a New York Times follow-up to the Hutaree bust, we learn that Matt Savino and his father, Jim Gulliksen, left, are Michigan Militia members. Mr. Savino provided a tip that led the authorities to fugitive Hutaree militia members. Mr. Savino, 34, is currently unemployed and was an assistant manager at a GNC nutrition store. He is a Navy veteran who converted to Islam in the late 1990s and believes that he is the only Muslim in the militia.

Estimates of statewide Michigan militia membership range from several hundred people to 500 or more. Mr. Savino and his father, also a Navy Veteran and  the local militia chapter’s chief executive officer say they have worked to distinguish the group from its past. “My goal is to get the militia name clean,” said Mr. Gulliksen, 60, who works as a manager in the paint and hardware department at the local Wal-Mart.

Perhaps they could begin by understanding the AK-47’s history.

“AK-47” is shorthand for “Avtomat Kalashnikova” (Kalashnikov automatic rifle), model of 1947. Mikhail Kalashnikov began his career as a weapon designer while in a hospital recovering from a war wound. The Kalashnikov assault rifle model 1947 proved to be simple and reliable and was adopted by the Soviet Army in 1949. Low manufacturing costs enabled the Soviet Union to supply client states with the AK-47. The Cold War saw the mass export of AK-47s by the Soviet Union and Communist China to pro-communist countries and groups such as the Nicaraguan  Sandinistas and Viet Cong.

The weapon has appeared in a number of conflicts including clashes in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia. The AK-47 is now also made in Pakistan's semi-autonomous areas. The World Bank estimates that out of the 500 million total firearms available worldwide, 100 million are of the Kalashnikov family, and three-quarters of that number are AK-47s.

The AK-47 is included in the flags of Mozambique (left) and Hezbollah (below, yellow) and in Iranian Revolutionary Guards logo (below, blue) and has been used by nations and groups opposed to the United States, beginning with the Soviet Army, then Communist states during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Soviet Union became the principal arms dealer to countries embargoed by the United States, including Syria, Libya and Iran. AK-47s have been more recently associated with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq and FARC guerrillas in Colombia.

Private ownership of fully automatic AK-pattern rifles was regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The Gun Control Act of 1968 ceased the import of foreign-manufactured fully automatic firearms for sale to civilians. An amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act in 1986 prohibited domestic manufacturing of fully automatic weapons for civilian use. Automatic weapons manufactured domestically prior to 1986 or imported prior to 1968 may be legally transferred between civilians.

The 1989 Semi-Automatic Rifle Import Ban and the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban specifically banned the AK-47 in the United States. When ban expired on September 13, 2004 due to Presidential inaction all domestically produced semi-automatic AK-47s became legal. The import of AK-47s with certain features is still banned. States such as California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have specific restrictions which effectively ban new purchases of many semi-automatic rifles.

Perhaps Mr. Savino and Mr. Gulliksen should ponder the 63 year history of the AK-47 and its use against United States armed services personnel in their quest to "get the militia name clean". They should reconsider their tacit endorsement of a weapon that appears on belligerent flags, as Mr. Savino appears in the picture holding a possibly made-in-America product that certainly represents anti-American hatred.

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