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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

NRA Fights Biden Ban of Russian Ammunition

Russian Sanctions, Says the White House; Anti-Gun Policy, Say the Gun Nuts


A mix of Russian-made 7.62x39mm ammo from UCW and Barnaul (

Gun-hungry Americans buy more ammunition imported from Russia than from any other country. When President Joe Biden blocked the importation of Russian ammunition, the National Rifle Association trained its sights on the ban.

Russian brands include Barnaul Ammunition, which provided ammo to the Russian army during World War I, and Tula Cartridge Works, which has ties to the mentor of Russian agent Maria Butina.

“NRA is reviewing all political, legislative and legal options to fight this new policy,” said NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action.

American buyers like Russian ammunition because it is generally cheaper than American-made ammo. Russian ammunition is made with steel casings instead of brass. Russian ammunition accounts for just over 22% of all imported ammunition to the United States.

Gun sales in our country have soared during the pandemic, and there are ammunition shortages affecting deer hunters and others. In Russia, government orders for ammunition dried up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Biden’s ban is part of sanctions imposed in September to punish Russia for poisoning Putin critic Alexei Navalny. He survived after he was flown to Germany for treatment.

“Russian ammunition manufacturers are a significant industry that benefits Vladimir Putin’s regime, and they are a natural target for U.S. sanctions,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has raised questions about Russian imports.

In 2020, companies imported 765 million rounds of ammunition from Russia. The ban applies to new and permits to import ammunition.

“I feel this is more a restriction on ammo availability than any sanctions on Russia,” said Charlie Brown, the president of MKS Supply.

The company, based in Dayton, Ohio, sells Russian-made Barnaul Ammunition. The family-run business distributed a rifle used in the Columbine shootings in which 13 people were killed before the shooters slain themselves.

In 2018, Wyden, then the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, asked Treasury official Andrea Gacki about U.S. relationships with Russian arms manufacturers, including Tula Cartridge. Alexander Torshin, the mentor of Butina, has ties to the cartridge plant.

Torshin, who sat at a dinner table with Donald Trump Jr. at the 2016 National Rifle Association convention, was sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2018.

Butina pleaded guilty in 2018 to one count of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent in the United States without registering with the Justice Department. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison. She was released and deported in October 2019.

NRA officials visited Moscow in 2015 and met with senior Kremlin officials.

U.S. sellers of TulAmmo ammunition include Century Arms, which was founded in Montreal in 1961, and was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal for allegedly arming Nicaraguan rebels.

Another TulAmmo customer is Global Military Products of Tampa, Fla. Marc Morales, the company president, was indicted in 2010 when he worked at another business on accusations that he was one of the arms dealers who tried to bribe a foreign official.

His trial ended in a hung jury, and charges against him and 21 others were ultimately dismissed.

Sarah Okeson is correspondent for DCReport, reporting on the environment, gun control and the COVID pandemic. She is a former staff reporter for the Springfield News-Leader, Joplin Global and Florida Today ; and her work has also been featured by Salon, Miami Herald, Washington Times, Barons and more.