WOMEN WAR & PEACE | PBS

Goodbye to Another Killing Machine

October 5, 2010 | Abigail Disney

Series producer Abigail Disney with an AK-47 cut in half.

This is the latest blog post from series producer Abigail Disney:

Having traveled to parts of the world where war has done its usual nasty work on people’s lives, I have come to develop a particular hatred for the shape, the look, the sound of the AK-47. It was perfected by a Russian named Mikhail Kalashnikov — thus its other alias — in the same year that the Russians completed their first successful test of an atom bomb, and while the latter got more media coverage, the former’s appearance on the scene has been far more damaging to countries and to lives.

Thanks to the dynamics of the Cold War, this gun was the signature weapon of rebel movements around the world — it even graces the national flag of Mozambique. Once the Cold War ended, any former Soviet Army officer worth his salt made a killing in the open market selling these and other stockpiles of small arms into black markets around the world.

Even its most ardent supporters will admit that the Kalashnikov is not the most accurate, elegant or even effective weapon on the market. It has endured because the design is simple, its parts easily replaced or restored, and its low weight and ease of operation make it an ideal weapon for rebel movements and guerrilla groups that don’t have time to train recruits and have to rely on child soldiers, women combatants or on poor, starving conscripts. It is knocked off in China, North Korea, Venezuela and in most of the countries of the former Soviet Bloc. Of the 800 million small arms in circulation around the world, around 15 percent are Kalashnikovs.

When the activist Peter Thum approached me about an idea he had to buy AK’s in Congo and melt them down for jewelry, I jumped at the chance. The idea of making swords into plowshares has always been a favorite of mine, and this seemed like a 21st century opportunity to act out that biblical idea. So last month, I invited a few friends over, and a few people who might be interested in the work of Thum’s NGO, Fonderie 47, and we did an enormously satisfying thing. We cut a gun in half. And it was wonderful.

Comments

  1. Car Ant says:

    Stupid. The problem is People – Multinational Corporations paying off African “leaders” to look the other way while they maintain control terrorizing the population.

    Typical misguided “leftie” radical.

    Guns truly do not kill people – people do.

  2. Eliza says:

    Wonderful. The problem is that people too often do nothing creative about violence and killing. There is spiritual value in destroying something used by people continually and relentlessly to harm people, to destroy families, and to easily dominate communities.

    I’ve seen these guns in the hands of teenagers and how it inflates their confidence and gives them extraordinary power to dominate and abuse others.

    Having these guns easily accessible is as smart as leaving matches around wooden school houses filled with elementary school students. After a bunch of schools have burned down, some people will still criticize those who want the matches destroyed or removed from sight. “Matches don’t burn down schools, people do.”

    “Guns don’t kill people. People do.”

    Hmmm.

    While those who agree with Car Ant talk about changing people, confronting mulit-national corporations, and redesigning political systems of Africa (all important), others can saw guns in half. It is a small, but beautiful thing to do.

    Perhaps they believe as Mother Teresa said
    You can do no great thing.
    Only small things,
    With great love.

    Thank you, Wide Angle, for sharing stories of ordinary people attempting to do this.

  3. AJ Ocean says:

    I don’t see how one can make a positive statement by destroying a device/tool/item which can either save or destroy people and all that is left is to discretion of its user.

    lets cut guns in half because they cause misery and death to people,
    lets cut cars in half because they cause crashes which lead to people’s misery and death,
    lets cut cut planes in half because %50 of all crashes are pilot errors(fact not fantasy)
    lets cut subway trains in half because people jump on tracks and commit suicide
    LETS CUT PENCILS IN HALF BECAUSE IN DARK KNIGHT JOKER KILLED A GUY BY SHOVING IT THROUGH HIS EYE…..

    its not the guns’, cars’, trains’, planes’, or even pencils’, fault, its their users fault.
    a gun can and will save you just like a car can take to to your destination safely, same as the train, the plane, and also a pencil can save you and keep you from harm. people’s view of seeing anAK-47 as a symbol of misery to humanity is not a evil symbolism it just means that that person needs to get out and about a bit because their view is so limited that they associate that item with a particular act.

    Its like a prisoner’s view of knives and shanks to murder and death and to them those items can be viewed as instruments of death but when my local butcher looks at a knife he goes “man that looks smooth and sharp” it excites him. its not the item its the person. even these keyboards we use to type our opinions and post them to the world to read can be used to crush open our skulls. I wonder if Eliza ever thought of that before she made her comment.

    Ever heard of the statement: “People are responsible for their acts…” notice it says people not items or tools. (I don’t think you have since that’s too liberal for liberals)

    and by the way about the St. Theresa of Calcutta, if you know anything about her you must know that she said:
    “I will never attend an anti war rally, have a peace rally then invite me.”

    What Eliza or Abigail Disney will never understand is that Car Ant and I are not right because of our opinions. In fact who cares about opinions? its truth as clear as 2×2=4.

    still don’t believe me? then do the following:
    1:go out
    2: find a person who is walking their dog
    3: kick the animal
    4: THEN TAKE THE SHOE OFF AND CUT IT IN HALF TO JUSTIFY YOUR ACTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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