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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’ . . .

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    • ¿No es obvio?

      (By the way, Spanish is not one of my languages, so if this is wrong, blame Google Translate. That is all.)

  1. Did anyone in Singapore think, as these rifles were exported, that some might be used by high-seas hostage takers a quarter-century later?

    Heck No! Just show me the dough! Same for Mexico.

  2. That Somali pirates (or Mexican drug cartels for that matter) get their guns from any specific source is not what makes them dangerous. They would find weapons one way or another for their crimes.

    What worries me is the implication that seems to be getting made here that we should not export arms to allies. Recall that Somalia was aligning with us against the soviets back then.

    The danger of embargoing arms trading is most dramatically shown by the Spanish civil war. The legitimate government was unable to buy arms from any respectable nation while the fascists were able to get as many as they wanted. In desperation they had to turn to the Stalinist Soviets who extended their insane purges and reign of terror into Spain in return for cheating them on obsolete weapons. Had Franco failed we might have had another ally in the second world war.

    Somalia collapsed for many reasons, but not because they were sold a few machine pistols.

    • Its the same gun control line of thinking that the left wing gun grabbers apply here in our country…. just applied on a global scale.

      You are exactly right, and it just goes to show you that their ridiculous line of thinking does not hold water on a macro level either.

  3. Did some Somali pirates hit on a SEAL’s wife or something? They seem to have been really getting busy in the last year or two.

  4. Cheers me to learn that a real Pirate Rifle is chambered in 5.56 NATO. Who needs 7.62 x 39? (No flames. I don’t take advice from pirates, either. ) It seems to have most of the features of the SCAR (heavy bolt-carrier, charging handle, short stroke piston, lots of polymer). laugh.

  5. Story silly becuase Iran get Uzi machine guns is any suprise that Somali pirates geta any types firearms they want from black market.

  6. I thought his book was great (“The gun” about the AK-47), but I detected that he was rather nonplussed by the idea of civilians owning military-style rifles.

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