Peacekeeping: Kill the 7.62x39 and Save the World

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August 12, 2007: Peacekeepers are desperate to stop all the shooting going on. There are too many people with AK-47 running around, firing at anything and everything. How to stop that? Simple. Outlaw 7.62x39 ammunition. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, this rifle round has become the biggest killer on the planet. This is the ammo used in the AK-47 and the SKS carbine (a non-automatic rifle with a smaller magazine than the AK-47). You can't get all those weapons collected and destroyed. But you can sharply reduce the supply of ammo. Unlike the rifles, which last a long time, the ammo has a limited shelf life, and it tends to get used real quick. There are millions of half-century old rifles still out there, and many that go back nearly a century (to World War I). But ammo degrades rapidly, and people tend to use it. Empty rifles are basically awkward clubs, and left without ammo long enough, will be discarded by their owners.

Over twenty million AK-47s went on to the market after the Cold War ended. All those huge military establishments in communist nations were dissolved with the collapse of communism. The unneeded weapons were sold off, legally or illegally. Suddenly, angry people around the world had cheap automatic weapons. And cheap ammunition (10-20 cents a round for 7.62x39). Where before, tribal or warlord warfare was a lot of guys with spears, knives, machetes and bows, now they had automatic weapons. The old style warfare produced a low body count, because the weapons at hand were not all that effective, and it took a lot of courage to get up close and personal with that stuff. But an AK-47, and a few dollars worth of ammo, suddenly made turned any twelve year old kid into a mass murderer. Armed mayhem was now cheaper, and deadlier, and millions of people died in Africa, and elsewhere, as a result.

It's probably not practical to expect the 7.62x39 round to be successfully outlawed. Cocaine and heroin are illegal, and look at how much of that stuff is to be had. But the big difference here is that it's poor people who are getting this ammo, and killing each other with it. The illegal drug business is driven by huge demand in affluent nations.

The AK-47 is doing the most damage in poor countries. So if you make manufacture of the 7.62x39 illegal, most of the large producers will have to shut down, or face international sanctions. The small, outlaw, producers will make a lot of money, because suddenly 7.62x39 ammo will be real scarce, and the price will skyrocket. Not as much of the ammo will be available for all those weapons. Fewer bullets means fewer dead bodies. The poor users are not stupid, and they can count. Expensive ammo means you use the weapons less. That means fewer people get killed.

 


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