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Mikhail Kalashnikov, AK-47 designer, wrote penitent letter before he died

MOSCOW (AP) -- Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the AK-47 assault rifle, reportedly wrote a regretful letter several months before his death asking the head of the Russian Orthodox Church if he was to blame for the deaths of those killed by the guns.

The Russian daily Izvestia reported Monday that Kalashnikov, who died last month at 94, wrote to Patriarch Kirill in April and told him he kept asking himself if he's responsible.

"The pain in my soul is unbearable. I keep asking myself the same unsolvable question: If my assault rifle took people's lives that means that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, ... am responsible for people's deaths," he said in the letter.

"The longer I live, the more often that question gets into my brain, the deeper I go in my thoughts and guesses about why the Almighty allowed humans to have devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression," Kalashnikov continued.

Kalashnikov's daughter, Elena, was quoted by Izvestia as saying that a local priest could have helped her father write the letter, which was typed and carried his signature.

The letter contrasted sharply with past statements by Kalashnikov, who had repeatedly said in interviews and public speeches that he created the weapon to protect his country and couldn't be blamed for other people's action.

"I sleep well. It's the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence," the designer told The Associated Press in 2007.

The church sought to comfort him with exactly same argument. Izvestia quoted Kirill's spokesman Alexander Volkov as saying the Patriarch responded to Kalashnikov and praised him as a true patriot.

"If the weapon is used to defend the Motherland, the Church supports both its creators and the servicemen using it," the newspaper quoted Volkov as saying.

The AK-47 is the world's most popular firearm, favored by guerrillas, terrorists and the soldiers of many armies. An estimated 100 million are spread around the world.

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Kevin Caldwell January 13 2014 at 4:59 PM

From his Wiki:

Kalashnikov was, according to himself, a self-taught tinkerer who combined innate mechanical skills with the study of weaponry to design arms that achieved battlefield ubiquity. Even though Kalashnikov felt sorrow at the weapons' uncontrolled distribution, he took pride in his inventions and in their reputation for reliability, emphasizing that his rifle is "a weapon of defense" and "not a weapon for offense".

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bonitoking61 January 14 2014 at 12:13 AM

I saw a documentary on this guy and he had no regrets. It should be easy to find, it aired when he died.

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1 reply
hunklers71 bonitoking61 January 14 2014 at 12:28 AM

People change, even though sometimes it's right before they die. At least there was some humanity in him towards the end, if what you're saying is true. People have blind sides, and especially when they're young, and indoctrinated or compartmentalized and don't see the truth until they get older and more experienced. It's unfortunate, but that's how it goes sometimes.

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djmworks January 14 2014 at 12:11 AM

Great design. Rest in peace. You did what you did for your country!

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cfrosemond January 13 2014 at 5:10 PM

It's the same old argument at center stage that guns don't kill people, people kill people.

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Cheech January 14 2014 at 12:09 AM

Wow..how deep is that??

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brtndrjoehd74 January 13 2014 at 5:12 PM

When Mr. Kalashnikov invented the AK47 his intentions were honorable, no one should judge him for doing this to guarantee a better functioning weapon to protect the soldiers of the USSR in war. The fact that his weapon has been used by every Despot, thug, drug smuggler or Terrorist, is a moot point. Wherever evil is in the heart of man, there too will be a way for them to bring pain and death to those whom they want to hurt. If it isn't gun's, then it would be Bow's and Arrow's, Swords, knifes, Baseball Bat's, Hammer's, Rock's, Rubber Mallets or even a rope or piece of electrical wire. It's is not the weapon, that brings the evil, it is the monster with the evil intent. Those who would take your guns away would only do it to make sure that they would have an easier time hurting you when the time comes, for their safety not yours. Don't ever believe them when they say that they are looking out for your interest, because it is an outright lie. Law enforcement and Military view anyone outside of their community with a weapon as a threat to them and their families. Their allegiance is to the local or national government in charge not to the common citizen, unless otherwise ordered to do so by their superiors.

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1 reply
Claudia brtndrjoehd74 January 13 2014 at 5:25 PM

That gun also saved lifes of solders. It was never intended to use on civilians.

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vptileservices January 13 2014 at 5:13 PM

Well, then the person who invented the car should feel guilty too... since thousands of people die in car accidents every year :)

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3 replies
itchy1958 January 13 2014 at 5:13 PM

I still like the STG 44 Better.

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1 reply
ronbo1003 itchy1958 January 13 2014 at 5:26 PM

...but I truly hate that it weighs about 11 pounds.

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J L Stelling January 13 2014 at 5:13 PM

I have always prefered guns made by Winchester, whether it's an M-1, M-14, M-16 or .22 caliber. Much more accurate, out of the factory, than most made by others.

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1 reply
ihave1465fans J L Stelling January 13 2014 at 5:23 PM

Except Winchester made none of those except maybe by License other than .22 Calibers

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1 reply
J L Stelling ihave1465fans January 13 2014 at 5:31 PM

Then allow me to say manufactured by Winchester. Winchester did invent and make the 1874 model 30-30 caliber lever action repeating rifle.

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Kate January 13 2014 at 5:16 PM

I don't blame him for having invented it, but can certainly understand his remorse that it was used so many times, by so many different forces, to do things that were certainly abominable. Was he responsible? No, because if it wasn't that weapon, it would have been another.

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