Tagged: assault rifles

Assault Rifles Smugglers Trial begins

Assault Rifles and Sub-Machine Guns were among items at the trial yesterday of failed UK gun smugglers who brought a total of 31 illegal weapons into the UK. The automatic weapons, originally from Eastern Europe, were purchased at what were reportedly “shockingly low” prices. The smugglers also attempted to bring a large amount of ammunition into the country.

The assault rifles and SMGs had originally been deactivated but were converted back to working condition before being loaded onto a small pleasure boat in France for transport across the English Channel to the UK. Fortunately, intelligence sources enabled National Crime Agency officers to be waiting for the shipment as the boat arrived in the River Medway south east of London.

The on-going problem of gun smuggling, however, remains serious with large numbers of weapons available on the European mainland. The main concern is automatic weapons such as assault rifles and sub machine guns / pistols. This month the Manchester Evening News reported on a statement from Dave Thompson, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, who said that weapons and gun components were arriving in the UK via postal and courier services alongside legitimate internet deliveries.

There has always been a risk of weapons filtering into the country through quiet ports and non-passenger terminals, but the surge in postal and courier traffic with the growth of the internet adds a new element which makes the work of police even more difficult, particularly at a time when resources are under pressure. Guns are still relatively difficult to acquire in the UK, so criminals are constantly seeking new ways of bringing in weapons.

Recent shootings in Paris have highlighted the risk of weapons on the street and according to Thompson are a ‘game changer’ for counter terrorism chiefs as it means that more highly trained armed police are urgently needed on the ground to provide a fast response to any similar incident rather than having to await the arrival of special forces type units who might well be too late to deal with such a terrorist attack.

Assault Rifles

Part of the weapon haul.
Photo National Crime Agency

Gunsmith moves with the times

Mr Aziz in his workshop Photo: Matt Cetti-Roberts

An interesting armoury item appeared in the War is Boring Blog this week. Written by Matt Cetti-Roberts, it tells the story of a day in the life of Bakhtiar Aziz who runs a family gunsmithing shop in Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital.

Mr Aziz has been running the business since 1987 taking it over from his father. Originally it was focussed on repair of hunting weapons but, of course, since the war began things have changed.

Mr Aziz reports that 85% of weapons that pass through his shop for repair are Russian in origin, produced in the 1950s. The most common weapon is of course the AK47.

He also sees M16s which he repairs and converts to a carbine M4 type version. These weapons have done the rounds from the Iraqi Army to ISIS and then to the Peshmerga.

Apparently the cost of an M4 in Kurdistan is around USD5,000.00

As you might expect the business of gun repairs these days is brisk and sees Mr Aziz often working late into the night. Let’s hope that he can return to his core business of repairing sporting rifles sooner rather than later.

A Novel Use for Old Weapons

If you visit the British Museum – it is worth a quick look at Cristovao Canhavato’s Throne of Weapons sculpture. The Throne is the result of the a project which offered former civil war combatants agricultural and other tools in exchange for their assault rifles and sub-machine guns following the end of the Civil War in Mozambique in 1992. Unsurprisingly, the AK47 forms the main content of the Throne, but there is a Russian AKM in there and some other unidentifiable bits.

It is a thought-provoking sight and it is impossible not to reflect on the individual fighters who used these weapons during the civil war. It is strange to see the familiar shapes of the weapons’ component parts chopped up and welded together to make the Throne of Weapons.

The sculpture was brought to the UK by Christian Aid – the symbol of recycling guns obviously representing the theme of ‘swords into ploughshares’. Yet, the British Museum also points out that chairs are often representative of power in African societies, so given the name of the sculpture there is clearly another deeper meaning.

For this visitor the Throne does have a strangely sinister feel to it.

It is such a contrast to the daily scene of order and neat lines of carefully stored and maintained weapons seen every day in police and military armouries.

Its rough construction helps to make it a powerful piece which evokes the anarchy and brutality during the chaos of the civil war.