Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, died in 2013 at the age of 94. Though he often shrugged off criticisms that he'd given the world a tool that has helped murder millions (he once compared himself to a "woman who bears children,” declaring himself “always proud” of his creation), months before hisspiritual pain is unbearable,” the gun inventor wrote. “I keep asking the same insoluble question. If my rifle deprived people of life then can it be that I...a Christian and an orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?"
The letter was made public in 2014, after being published in the Russian newspaper Izvestia and later picked up by Western outlets. The missive offers an unvarnished look at a man who, taking stock of his life, came to regret what he once considered his greatest achievement and contribution. "The longer I live," Kalashnikov continued, "the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression.”