Questions on Kalashnikov

Kalashnikov by Nomadic Lass

Kalashnikov by Nomadic Lass 

As you probably spotted at the tail end of 2013, Mikhail Kalashnikov passed away at the ripe old age of 94. It was a rather peculiar selection of photos that graced the pages of our papers over the Christmas period – an old man brandishing an assault rifle. How very festive!

As well as being standard issue for the Soviet Armed Forces, his creation (or its offspring) was certainly popular with a certain crowd; the favoured weapon of pirates and cartels. In fact, there is estimated to be one Kalashnikov rifle for every 70 people in the world. So come on – statistically speaking around 75 of you blog readers are likely to be AK-47 owners! Own up…

It was fascinating to read this article about how Mikhail Kalashnikov appeared to develop a sense of uneasiness about his creation in his final days.

“My aim was to create armaments to protect the borders of my motherland,” Mr Kalashnikov once protested. “It is not my fault that the Kalashnikov was used in many troubled places. I think the policies of these countries are to blame, not the designers.” […]

In a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, in May 2012, Mr Kalashnikov said he was in “spiritual pain” over the number of deaths his invention may have been responsible for, and revealed that he had first gone to church at the age of 91, and had himself baptised.

In the letter, published by the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper, Mr Kalashnikov wrote: “My spiritual pain is unbearable. I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle claimed people’s lives, then can it be that I… a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths? The longer I live the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man to have the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression”.

Whatever your view on war and violence more generally (I’m sure by now my own bias is hardly a secret!) this raises a few questions and I’m curious to know how you’d answer them…

  • Do you think Kalashnikov is to blame for the deaths caused by his weapon?

  • All of them, or only some?

  • Does he share a percentage of blame for every death caused, or only the ones caused in non-combative settings?

  • Or is his creation a morally-neutral item which, in the hands of evil men, was (mis)used for murderous purposes? Somewhat like a breadknife.

  • If so, in what way could the rifle have been properly used, in a non-immoral way?

  • Is Kalashnikov right that nations should be blamed for their policies that allowed the (mis?)-use of these weapons?

  • Or can they wash their hands and pass the culpability one rung further down, to the individual gun-users themselves?

  • Are the envy, greed and aggression that M.K. laments only present in the hearts of those who sold and abused the guns, or might they also have motivated the designers and producers of the weapons?

  • Is it inevitable that these devilish desires (which the Lord permitted!) would have manifested themselves in some other equally violent way had Mikhail not provided the world with a simple, effective, affordable weapon?

  • Is it naïve to imagine that there would have been fewer violent deaths had the AK-47 never been created?

  • Would you have raised the subject of Kalashnikov’s prize creation, had he come to your church, requesting baptism?

  • And how would you have answered him, had he raised these concerns to you in his dying moments?

Discuss…

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