Banning Russian-made AK-47s sets off a U.S. buying frenzy

Laboring almost nonstop, workers at Atlantic Firearms in Bishopville, a Worcester County community on the Eastern Shore, had shipped hundreds of Russian-made AK-47s — an assault rifle prized by both consumers and despots — as buyers wiped out gun dealers’ inventories around the country. The frenzy was brought on, in part, by a suspicion among some gun owners that the Russia-Ukraine conflict was a backdoor excuse to ban guns many Democrats don’t like. Some customers bought eight to 10 rifles for nearly $1,000 each or more, stockpiling them as investments.

“The gun community moved very, very quickly,” said Blaine Bunting, president of Atlantic Firearms. “I don’t see this ban going away.”

The AK-47 buying frenzy presents yet another example of a paradoxical consequence of trying to limit gun sales: booming demand. During the debate over the measure commonly called the ­Brady Bill in the 1990s, gun purchases skyrocketed. When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, sales soared again. When President Obama tried to pass sweeping gun control laws after the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting, some dealers even sold out of ammunition.