The AK-47: Weapon of Death


An AK-47 gun
Public Domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

The AK-47 appears in conflicts all over the world. Liz Waid and Adam Navis investigate the history of this deadly gun.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

On today’s Spotlight we will look at one of the most deadly weapons that ever existed: The AK-47. This gun is recognized around the world by the curved ammunition clip, its thin size, and its sound. The AK-47 hangs on the shoulders of Russian soldiers, African rebels, Colombian drug dealers, American criminals, and many others. It is simple, easy to use, and requires little care. But it has killed more people than the atom bomb. How did this simple gun become so popular and so deadly?

Voice 2

In 1941, Mikhail Kalashnikov lay in a Russian hospital bed. He thought about what had just happened.

Voice 1

He had been injured during a battle against the Germans. While travelling to the hospital, his transport had stopped at a city in ruins. Kalashnikov was strong enough to search for survivors. He left the transport. But while he was gone, German soldiers attacked the transport. With their better weapons, the Germans killed everyone. When Kalashnikov returned from searching, he saw the dead soldiers from his transport. Their bodies were in pieces from the power of the German guns. He decided he would make sure that Russian soldiers had a better weapon.

Voice 2

Kalashnikov was not trained in building weapons. So he studied past gun designs. He took the best parts of many guns and combined them in his model. The gun went through many tests. Each time, Kalashnikov made improvements. He completed the weapon too late to be used in World War Two. But in 1947, the Automat-Kalashnikov became the official gun of the Russian military. The AK-47 had arrived.

Voice 1

The AK-47 is very powerful. It can shoot 600 bullets each minute. But it is easy to use and care for. It uses a small bullet. This makes it easier to keep aimed at a target. It has few parts. These parts are strong and can survive a lot of misuse. An AK-47 can be put under water, pulled through the dirt, buried in sand, or dropped on the ground and it will still fire. This made it perfect for use in battle conditions.

Voice 2

At this point, the former Soviet Union was the only country using the AK-47. But the Cold War was about to change that.

Voice 1

The Cold War was the indirect conflict between the United States and the former Soviet Union. Both countries wanted greater influence in the world. But, fear of nuclear weapons stopped them from direct conflict with one another. Instead, they supported wars in poor countries with money, ammunition, and guns.

Voice 2

The Vietnam War was from 1959 to 1975. The Soviet Union supported North Vietnam. And the United States supported South Vietnam. The Soviet Union gave many AK-47s to the North. This was an advantage because the conditions in Vietnam were wet, muddy, and hot. The AK-47 was ideal in these conditions.

Voice 1

In the jungles of Vietnam, battles were often decided by whomever could fire the most bullets. American weapons would often mis-fire. But the AK-47 worked perfectly, even when dirty and wet.

Voice 2

American soldiers sometimes traded their weapons for captured AK-47s, even though it was not permitted. In the Vietnam War the AK-47 proved that it was a strong and dependable weapon.

Voice 1

Another battle front for the Cold War was Afghanistan. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. They believed this would give them greater influence in the Middle East. But they found the resistance fighters difficult to defeat.

Voice 2

Part of the reason for this was low cost AK-47s. The Soviet Union gave the AK-47 design to any country that would be their ally in the Cold War. This meant that AK-47 models were being made in Russia, Bulgaria, India, Poland, Hungary and China. The United States wanted to support the resistance fighters in Afghanistan, so they bought millions of AK-47s from China. Low cost, powerful guns began to pour into Afghanistan from around the world.

Voice 1

In 1989, the Soviets left Afghanistan. When they did, they left behind millions more AK-47s. This began the AK-47 culture. The guns were everywhere. People began to use them as money. Individuals and governments started selling weapons for food. The movement of the guns was hard to control. Many of these weapons were sold to rebel leaders in Africa.

Voice 2

Tribal conflicts in Africa have been happening for many years. But the AK-47 made these conflicts much more deadly. During the 1990s, Western nations were only watching the trade of bombs, missiles, planes and tanks. The simple AK-47 was dismissed as unimportant.

Voice 1

But the AK-47 was a way to make money when no other way was available. AK-47s appeared in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, Congo, and South Africa.

Voice 2

Many rebel leaders would exchange an AK-47 for the promise of loyalty. Untrained groups of young men and boys joined rebel groups. And leaders encouraged them to destroy towns, steal, force women to have sex, and kill who they wished.

Voice 1

During this time, new players were influencing world politics. China began to sell weapons directly. Business men, weapons makers and drug dealers from Europe gave African leaders weapons and money. In exchange they received resources such as wood, copper, gold, and especially diamonds.

Voice 2

These people dealt with who ever gave them what they wanted. They dealt with rebel leaders and government officials. It soon became difficult to tell who really was in control of a country.

Voice 1

But the AK-47 was not limited to Africa. Supplied by drug money, AK-47s began to appear in countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Colombia. These guns made their way north into Mexico and the United States. Now, the reach of the AK-47 goes all the way around the world.

Voice 2

And what about Mikhail Kalashnikov? What has happened to the man who made the gun? He made no money from the AK-47. And while he defends his gun, he also regrets what it has become. He says,

Voice 3

“I am proud of my invention, but I am sad that it is used by terrorists. I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use. Something that would help farmers with their work - for example, a lawnmower.”

Voice 1

The writer and producer of this program was Adam Navis. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can hear our programs, read our scripts, and see our word list on our website at http://www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “The AK-47: Weapon of Death.”

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Question:

Do you think the AK-47 is a good invention or a bad invention? Why?

Comments


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no star where
said on December 27, 2008

very good! thanks a lot

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DUNG NGUYEN
said on February 27, 2010

Dear Spotlight team,

The above script gives me the good knowledge of the AK 47 history. I think that Mikhail Kalashnikov should’t regret the AK 47’s bad influence today. The rebel leader and the terrorist applied the valuable invention to the bad purpose. Actually, we need the gun for the hunt and the defence.

Ms Nguyen

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bluezman
said on March 09, 2010

Good report. When I studied at schoole (15 age old). We had military classes. We studied weapons. And one of the main of weapon was AK-47. In that time I lived in Soviet Union. Now I live in Russia. At age 18 old the young men should go to the army. It’s a call of duty by the Russin Law or Matherland ;-) . And when the man was going in to the Red Army, he could use AK-47. He knew this gun. And now most of the men in Russia know this weapon. KALASHNIKOV live in a city Izhevsk. This city has a very good traditions of gunmasters.

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actionjksn
said on September 03, 2010

I have a Chinese Norinco Ak47. It is a very well built weapon! It has a thicker barrel and receiver than most of the other variants, Like the Yugoslavian models. The receiver is 1.5 millimeter, instead of the standard 1 millimeter. It will shoot through about a 12 inch pine tree or a large concrete block. It would not save you if you tried to hide from a bad guy, behind a car or something. The engine would be the only car part that would save you from an AK-47. If a bad guy comes to my house after me he is in trouble. I really love the Second Amendment LOL. In the USA, there are literally many thousands of citizens, who have AK 47’s and even AR 15’s. Most of us are good law abiding men and women. We just like to have fun with them, and be ready for anything.

Learning Everything's avatar
Learning Everything
said on March 04, 2015

Almost someone who invented a weapons were feel their conscience in sin. Everyone is always desire a peaceful around the world. So we don’t need and never use any weapons when every body loving and sharing together. Taking time to creative a useful thing for life is better than a weapons.

Thanks Sportlight.

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HeeOnHuynh
said on March 05, 2015

From the beginning, the purpose of the born of this weapon is just killing each other. Not hard to guess what the results now. I just wish humans can invent things nice and useful than weapons of war.

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HeeOnHuynh
said on March 05, 2015

Hey Spotlight, I have one comment about your program, just my opinion. I often listen to Spotlight Program twice a day. One, I listen at day and two at bedtime listening. I always was awoken by Spotlight’s music at the ending program. Hix… Can you omit music at the end? Please!

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Myway.kaan
said on March 08, 2015

Well, the guns, just people use them to sove conflicts… In the end, some people are killed, some of them are injured..AK-47 had become one of the most effective guns from 1950s to 1990s… The user profile had also changed…
The test is really good summary to get an idea about the weapon.. Sure no one wants to invent something used for bad purposes but it is no working in some situations…

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dungn9926@gmail.com
said on March 09, 2015

I saw this gun when I joined in military study at university in the 3 rd year.I practiced how to install and use it without bullet.I know it is common weapon for Vietnamese soldiers in battle areas to fight enemy.Vietnamese always thank Soviet Union support giving this weapon for VN soldiers.Without it,Vietnamese people couldn’t win the victory.It only become dangerous for terrorist or rebel leader using it with violent purpose!

Liz Waid's avatar
Liz Waid
said on March 11, 2015

HeeOnHuynh,

Since our program is also available on some radio stations around the world, we include this ending theme music for them. Thanks for your suggestion! We do always want to know what our listeners think!

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georgino
said on February 27, 2016

AK-47 Dangerous gun and what’s the aim only kill. Our lives will be threatened for the weapons
More weapons to destroy the world and not to save it.

Take care
j//r//

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Honneur
said on August 08, 2018

Undoubtedly, the AK-47 was a very good invention. Mikhail Kalishinokov intended to make a good gun for his country’s soldiers and he were succesful in his work. If the use of his invention was a misuse, it can’t became the AK-47 a bad invention.

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kenhieuloilam
said on June 20, 2019

War, guns and ammunition cause deaths. None of us wishes war or conflict. Each of us wishes peace. Each of us respects truth. We will not be able to exist if truth is not respected. We will not be able to exist if there is no love in life. There will be deaths caused by guns and ammunition if guns and ammunition are used. Truth and love help us exist. War, guns and ammunition cause deaths. None of us wishes war or conflict. Each of us wishes peace in life. Each of us wishes peace in soul.

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IPetrov
said on July 07, 2019

You have published wrong information. Mikhail Kalashnikov never had invented AK47. He had not education and skills. The real inventor of gun was Hugo Schmeisser.
You can read in Russian https://topwar.ru/453-tajna-avtomata-kalashnikova-raskryta.html and https://andreistp.livejournal.com/4393198.html
You can use “google translator” to read this text.