C.J. Chivers reads TTAG. TTAG reads C.J. Chivers. When the New York Times war now pirate correspondent got all hot and bloggered about a Somali-owned SAR 80 machine pistol thingie, we had to link. For those of you who find gun geekery almost [but not quite] as exciting as sailboat racing, here’s the non-technical potted version: “As assault rifle production goes, the SAR 80 was not a major weapon. It has not been circulated on anything like the scale of the many other systems. So how did one find its way onto a pirate vessel at sea? The answer probably lies in an arms deal from the 1980s, before Somalia fell apart . . .
Back then, the Somali government reportedly purchased SAR 80s for its armed forces. As the government collapsed and lost control of its depots, some of those weapons naturally entered others’ grips, and likely have recirculated since, through the endlessly churning Somali mess.
And that’s important because . . .
This served as a reminder of one of this blog’s chords: modern assault rifles tend to last and last, and even lawful exports can lead to consequences decades later. Did anyone in Singapore think, as these rifles were exported, that some might be used by high-seas hostage takers a quarter-century later? No one can predict such things precisely, but time has proven that such outcomes can be predicted generally. Send arms to a weak nation, intending perhaps to make the nation stronger, and you might actually make it weaker over time.
Meanwhile, make sure you cash the check before you send anyone a crate or two of assault rifles. Just sayin’ . . .