There is a debate as to whether the banning of the AK47 would impact terrorist organisations and reduce the capability of insurgences?
Why? It is the fact that the AK47 is one of the most, if not the most widely used weapon in the developing and the developed world. It is the weapon of choice because it is durable, effective, cheap to produce, can be produced locally through the use of stamped metal, and its ammunition is widely accessible.
However, just purely banning the future supply of AK47s will do very little to halt the supply of weapons to terrorists operating under the banner of the Islamic State or any other terrorist group. Most groups have local small arms factories which can machine press these rifles. Many of these armouries are seen in the Northern provinces of Pakistan, and other countries. Plus, the cost of the AK47 is so cheap. It can range from $50 to $1000, with the price determined by location.
It has become a symbol for terrorists and insurgents worldwide. Osama Bin Laden was filmed holding a AK74 rifle carbine (his weapon of choice). In addition, on television, you will probably have noticed not just terrorists but government forces in conflict zones such as Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan to mention a few using these weapons. The AK is a weapons platform for many nations worldwide.
During the Soviet Union era, many countries including those in the Eastern bloc, Africa, Middle East, and Asia were supplied with subsidised versions of the AK 47.
It is a fact that the AK47 has been featured on the national flag of Mozambique, which was once an ally of the Soviet Union. These weapons, a product of Cold War geopolitics are still being used, and have subsequently been repaired or remade in local weapons factories. The company in Russia which makes AK weapons has claimed that it is in fact a majority of foreign manufacturers are producing AK47s.
It would be impractical to ban such a weapon due to the issues raised. What would be more beneficial is to target the financing of terrorism worldwide, and stop the supply of weapons more broadly, including heavy weapons, missiles and mortars.
It was a well known fact that Colonel Gaddafi supplied AK47 to Irish dissidents of the IRA during the height of the troubles, with shipments sent from Tripoli. The Gaddafi regime was a big supplier and financier of terrorism worldwide, and also provided its territory for terrorist organisations to train with the weapon. Most dissident groups had training camps there to do rifle training.
In popular culture, we see many films portraying terrorists carrying AK47s. One such film, Patriot Games (1992) based on the Tom Clancy (1987) novel by the same name shows part of a splinter cell of the Provisional Irish Republican Army training in Libya, firing AK47’s on a shooting range.
Simply banning the sale of one weapon will not do anything. Furthermore Western governments including the United States and others have sold Soviet made weapons to rebel groups friendly to their governments, which have gone into the hands of ISIS affiliated groups as Syrian rebels funded by Saudi Arabia have switched sides.
The complexities of Middle Eastern politics means that there is a free flow of weapons and material to different groups. Targeting the financing of terror, is better than just simply banning the import of the AK47s.