The latest sanctions against Russia do more than attempt to tarnish the country’s image over unproven allegations. They are a clear shot across the bow of the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association.
For those Americans who thought the Democratic Party could not possibly get any more mileage out of the tired bogeyman known as Russophobia, they had better start stocking up on Russian-made rifles and ammunition before store shelves are empty.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration slapped new sanctions against Russia – and, indirectly, American gun owners; more on that shortly – over last year’s alleged ‘Novichok poisoning’ of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny. As often happens with US sanctions, no proof has been provided to back up the allegations.
The latest raft of punitive actions against Moscow should surprise exactly nobody. After all, even the 1,200-kilometer Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a completely legitimate bilateral project between Russia and Germany to supply Western Europe with energy supplies, has attracted the wrath of Washington.
Both US President Joe Biden and his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump made very unsportsmanlike attempts to thwart construction of the $11 billion project through the use of sanctions and other underhanded methods that have nothing in common with the free market. When it comes to using Russophobia as a geopolitical weapon of last resort, the Democrats and the Republicans are reading from exactly the same script.
However, the latest sanctions against Russia carry more than a hint of political intrigue, and not just between Washington and Moscow. In a message from the US State Department, the Biden administration has slapped a 12-month ban on “the permanent importation of firearms or ammunition manufactured or located in Russia.” To the average reader that may not sound like a worrisome thing. After all, a few less AK-47s on the streets of America may not be so bad, right? For the red-blooded American right-wing conservative, however, born and bred on the sanctity of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, the restrictions come off like an invitation to pistols at sunrise.
Gun advocacy groups are quite literally up in arms over the move, seeing it as more of an attack on their industry than the dastardly Russians.
The Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition (FRAC) slammed the ban, coming as it does at a time when ammunition is already in short supply in the home of the brave, as just the latest attempt to push the Second Amendment into irrelevancy.
“With this rule… the State Department appears to be using the attack on Mr. Navalny and this law primarily to further the current administration’s campaign to undermine the firearms industry and American consumers’ access to firearms and ammunition,” the coalition told The Reload, a firearms newsletter.
Another gun-loving publication, The Machine Gun Nest (TGMN), revealed that a whopping 40% of ammunition that Americans use comes courtesy of Russia via companies like Wolf, Brown Bear, and TulAmmo. As TMGN suggested, the move for Russian sanctions seems to have been a convenient ‘backdoor’ move by the current Democratic administration to make it more difficult for Americans to purchase ammo by driving prices through the roof.
US manufacturers of ammunition are going to be hard pressed to fill that void, coming as it does at a time when there is already a severe shortage of supplies due to Covid-19, not to mention inherent fears that ‘the Democrats are coming for America’s guns.’ Gun owners in America are in a state of perpetual fear that they are always just one mass-shooting event away from the government finally deciding to deprive them of their beloved firearms. Nothing stokes gun and ammo sales in the US better than the feeling of uncertainty.
And while such a ‘gun grab’ scenario would result in the mother of all ‘showdowns at the OK Corral’, now would seem to be a particularly bad time for such a move. In the United States, trust in government is near historic lows, which says an awful lot since it’s always low. At the same time, the country is becoming fiercely divided over issues of race, sexual orientation, and even what pronouns to use to address their fellow citizens.
Meanwhile, the push for vaccines and vaccine passports is driving an iron wedge between citizens – not to mention family, friends, and acquaintances.
A short stroll on social media quickly reveals the sentiments of right-wing American commentators who fervently believe that the oppressive conditions now happening in their backyards and other countries over Covid-related restrictions – Australia, for example, and New Zealand – would be preventable had those people not surrendered their ‘God-given’ right to gun ownership. Right or wrong, that is how thousands of Americans apparently view the current situation.
Whatever the case may be, the bumbling Biden administration, instead of finally putting to bed the ghost of Russophobia, has found it expedient to use it not only as a means for reinforcing anti-Russia propaganda, but as a way for depriving the American people of their hard-earned constitutional rights to gun ownership.
Why the Biden administration is so concerned about those inalienable rights at this particular juncture in American history is another question for another day, but I fear we may have an answer sooner rather than later.
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