It’s increasingly clear that Mikhail Kalashnikov, who died last month aged 94, felt haunted by his life’s most prominent creation: the AK-47 assault rifle.
In a 2012 letter he sent to the Russian Orthodox Church, published recently by local Russian paper Isvestya, Kalashnikov wonders openly at the responsibility an inventor has for his or her invention.
“I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle claimed people’s lives, then can it be that I … a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?” he wrote.
“The longer I live, the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man to have the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression.”
Kalashnikov was only recently recognised by the church through his baptism at the age of 91.
He was always enthusiastic about his creation, though he expressed regrets about its use several times in the past.
“I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawnmower,” he said during a 2002 visit to Germany.
“Whenever I look at TV and I see the weapon I invented to defend my motherland in the hands of these bin Ladens, I ask myself the same question: ‘How did it get into their hands?'” he said in 2006. “I didn’t put it in the hands of bandits and terrorists, and it’s not my fault that it has mushroomed uncontrollably across the globe. Can I be blamed that they consider it the most reliable weapon?”
His pride was evident even as he wondered about blame.
The AK-Series rifle has largely been viewed as the most reliable and cheaply constructed in the world. The American M-Series rifle on the other hand holds an advantage in accuracy, where it sacrifices to the AK in durability and reliability.
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