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New sanctions have U.S. gun buyers scrambling for popular Russian rifles

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Gun Control,Russia,Firearms,Sanctions,Ukraine,Becket Adams

A Las Vegas-based gun seller says he's experiencing a run on AK-47s, an apparent side effect of the White House's latest round of economic sanctions leveled against Russia.

The sanctions, which were announced one day before a Malaysian passenger jet was brought down by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 aboard, are aimed at a number of Russian companies, including Kalashnikov Concern, which manufactures the AK-47. The company is named after the late Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the weapon.

"We sell some of the Kalashnikov Concern stuff and that has been selling fast," Robert Keller, a manager at Las Vegas-based online gun distributor K-Var Corp., told CNN Money.

Almost immediately after the sanctions were announced last week, Keller said his organization sold out of AK-47s. The group's website currently lists the item as “out of stock.”

K-Var did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the Washington Examiner.

The Obama administration announced the new sanctions in response to Russia's continued involvement in the violent conflict between Ukraine's government and pro-Russian separatists. The idea is that the sanctions will dry up cash flows to major Russian banks, energy companies and a slew of other companies run out of that country.

The sanctions mean that Kalashnikov Concern is barred from importing its rifles, including the AK-47 and the AK-74, into the U.S., a Treasury Department official said.

For his part, Keller said his company is “scrambling” to grab up as many Kalashnikov products as they can from U.S. gun distributors. Americans are still allowed to own, buy and sell Kalashnikov products so long as they were in the U.S. before the new sanctions took effect, CNN Money reported, citing the Treasury Department.

"What we are expecting is the Russian leadership will see once again that its actions in Ukraine have consequences," the president said in a statement after the sanctions were announced, adding that the situation will only be resolved if Russia takes the White House’s advice and deescalates the violence in Ukraine.

"So far, Russia has failed to take any of the steps that I mentioned," Obama said. "In fact Russia's support for the separatists and violations of Ukraine's sovereignty has continued."

Administration officials are confident that the continued sanctions against Russia will eventually force the country into following the White House’s recommendations.

"These sanctions are significant but they are also targeted, designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies," Obama said.

A spokesperson for Kalashnikov Concern did not immediately respond to the Examiner's request for comment.

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