Since everyone in Gun-control Nation is piling on the Marina Butina case, I’ll offer my two cents as well. The Brady Campaign, for example, issued a press release saying, among other things, that “we have serious concerns about a Russian national with deep ties to the NRA, an organization that helped fund and elect President Trump, being arrested on charges of espionage.” Shannon Watts posted photos on her Twitter of Butina with Wayne-o, Scott Walker and former NRA President David Keene.
The arrest of Butina for allegedly trying to connect various Russians with various Americans tied to the Trump campaign, is the latest in a swirling mass of interesting NRA– Russian tidbits which, according to our friend Ladd Everitt, who has compiled an online dossier of these contacts, goes back at least to 2010. The big question, of course, is whether the Russia-NRA connection resulted in back-door money going from Russia to the MAGA, insofar as at least $30 million went from the boys in Fairfax to the 2016 Trump campaign.
In fairness to the Fairfax bunch, it should be pointed out that there is little, if any evidence which ties payments to the NRA from Russian citizens, which would be a violation of American law were such payments made in the form of political donations which then found their way into any American political campaign. A major story in Rolling Stone (and cited by Everitt) paints the picture of a conscious Russian effort to ‘infiltrate’ the NRA and use the organization to promote various right-wing politicians with the intention of becoming and ultimately directing the shape of American politics from within the political system itself.
Is this behavior any different from what the Soviet Union attempted to do when it infiltrated the American Communist Party and used this connection to set up various front-organizations before and during the Cold War? After all, didn’t an American President named Richard Nixon owe most of his political success to unmasking an alleged Communist spy within the U.S. government named Alger Hiss? So Russian meddling in the American political system is hardly new, but I have yet to see any actual evidence of how, when and where all this secret Russian money actually changed hands.
What is clear, however, is that the Russians have designs on another important American activity for which an NRA connection can’t hurt at all, in this case the activity happens to be what the NRA is all about, namely, convincing every American to own a gun. And the gun which the Russians would love to see in the hands of every American is the AK-47, without doubt the single, most popular small arm ever made.
Down in Boca Raton there’s a little factory called Kalishnikov – USA, which almost got a nice tax break from the Florida state government until it turned out that the company’s owners back in Russia were the same bunch whose gun company was hit by U.S. sanctions after Russia invaded the Ukraine. And along with those investors, another Russian has been deeply involved in the finances of this company, a banker and political buddy of Putin named Alex Torshin, whose payroll also includes a young lady named Maria Butina – gee, what a happy coincidence for all concerned.
The Kalishnikov company had a booth at the 2018 SHOT show but has yet to actually produce or ship the gun. On the other hand, their advertising sets the retail price for the AK-47 at $1,300, give or take a few nickels and dimes, which would probably net the company about $300 on the sale of every gun.
If the AK-47 finally gets into retail stores, and if the gun tests out as well as it should, the Kalishnikov company could easily sell 50,000 units every year, which means a net profit of 15 million bucks – believe me, the Kalishnikov brand is that strong. And that’s enough of a reason for the Russians to try and get into bed with the NRA.