Gun trafficking for good?

AK-47. Source: "Wikipedia/ US MADE (Kr6)"

AK-47. Source: "Wikipedia/ US MADE (Kr6)"

Last week’s newsletter from contained an article titled: “Gun Trafficking for Good: How to Get AK-47s Out of Africa”. The idea is to turn AK-47s into cufflinks, earrings and other jewellery. I have a few problems with this concept.

The concept behind this initiative is to buy used AK-47s and turning them into jewellery, thus taking them out of circulation while at the same time increasing the prize and, due to the increased prize, making it more difficult for people to buy guns.

While “Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration” (DDR) frequently involves buying guns from ex-combatants, I think this particular project is a terrible idea.

  • According to Wikipedia, about 75 million AK-47 rifles and about 100 million AK-type rifles have been built so far. Considering that more are built every day, it is unrealistic to think that it would be possible to drive the price up by increasing demand. The only thing that would have a significant effect on the price would be a comprehensive, international ban on small arms.
  • The jewellery is extremely expensive with a pair of cufflinks costing a much as 35,000 USD. This seriously limits how many of customers/donors you can attract, further reducing the potential impact of the project.

On a personal note I also have to admit that the website of Fonderie47 made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. The way the video is shot, the quotes by Pablo Picasso, Aristotle and Marc Aurel, the whole aesthetics of the website have an air of “death is chic” that I find utterly inappropriate and make me wonder what kind of people would wear these kind of accessories. What’s next? Necklaces made out of human bones?

I’m very surprised that the respectable “Mines Advisory Group” (MAG) has allegedly partnered with this project, but from own experience I know that even big and professional organizations sometimes enter into partnerships they later regret.

If you really want to do something to reduce the number of guns or do something for survivors of war and conflict, I’d suggest you donate directly to organizations like MAG, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV)  or indeed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and skip the questionable jewellery.