Russian Ammo Ban Hurts Gun Owners, Not Vladimir Putin
If you’re ideologically committed to a course of action, like imposing restrictive policies, it’s frustrating when the people you want to hurt refuse to cooperate. It’s even more aggravating when some of the folks on your side lose faith and start doing the things you don’t like. If you’re clever and unwilling to compromise, you might then find a backdoor way to impose your will and, incidentally, prod your allies into line. By all appearance, that’s what we’re seeing with the Biden administration’s ban on imports of ammunition from Russia, an important source for America’s tight ammo market.
“New and pending permit applications for the permanent importation of firearms and ammunition manufactured or located in Russia will be subject to a policy of denial,” the U.S. State Department announced last week. The start date is set for September 7, 2021, and sanctions are anticipated to be in place for a minimum of 12 months.
The sanctions are ostensibly in response to the poisoning last year by the Russian government of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. That was a truly horrendous crime committed by an authoritarian regime against one of the few figures who continues to rally dissidents against Vladimir Putin’s regime, even from prison.
“There’s no need to apply sanctions on Russia,” Navalny told The New York Times this week. “For now, all sanctions were tailored to avoid almost all significant participants in Putin’s gangster gang. Do you want evidence? Name one real evildoer who suffered. The airplanes, the yachts, the billions in Western banks — everything is in its place,” he added. Navalny recommends directly targeting Putin’s allies.
As Navalny’s comments suggest, restrictions on imports of firearms and ammunition are less likely to hurt well-connected Russian manufacturers, who will almost certainly find buyers elsewhere, than they are to hurt civilian consumers of those goods. Amid social fracture and loss of faith in institutions, American firearms sales are booming, the ranks of gun owners swelling, and ammunition manufacturers are struggling to meet demand. Cutting off the largest single source of imported ammunition to the United States can only reduce supply and drive ammunition prices higher.
“Availability of cheap Russian ammo acted as a pressure release valve for the prices of brass-cased ammo produced in more developed countries,” Greg Ellifritz, a retired police officer and prominent firearms instructor, notes on his blog. “When the regular Russian ammo shooters can’t get their fix, they will start buying the stuff that the rest of us shoot. That means the gradual drop in ammo prices will come to a quick halt. Ammo prices will rise across the board this year and next.”
“Ammunition exports to the United States are only a small percentage of the GDP of the Russian Federation, but Russian origin
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