Opinion: The real weapon of mass destruction - the AK-47
In the grand narrative of World War II, the Battle of Bryansk is a minor conflict, barely deserving of a footnote. But Bryansk has another place in history. It was there that a then-unknown tank commander named Mikhail Kalashnikov decided that his Russian comrades would never again be defeated.
In the years following the Great Patriotic War, as Soviet propagandists dubbed it, he was to conceive and fabricate a weapon so simple, and yet so revolutionary, that it would change the way wars were fought and won. It was the AK-47 assault rifle.
The AK-47 has become the world's most prolific and effective combat weapon, a device so cheap and simple that it can be bought in many countries for less than the cost of a live chicken. Depicted on the flag and currency of several countries, waved by guerrillas and rebels everywhere, the AK is responsible for about a quarter-million deaths every year. It is the firearm of choice for at least 50 legitimate standing armies and countless fighting forces from Africa and the Middle East to Central America and Los Angeles. It has become a cultural icon, its signature form - that banana-shaped magazine - defining in our consciousness the contours of a deadly weapon. (more)