The AK-47 (or Avtomat Kalashnikova) is the world's most prolific firearm. Over 100 million have been made and they find use in every part of the world. It's Russia's greatest export and an international symbol of guerilla resistance. Why was the AK-47 made? What does the AK stand for? And why is it so important? To begin to answer these questions one must first investigate the life of the man who made the world's most deadly invention: Mikhail Kalashnikov.

Kalashnikov passed away Monday, Dec. 22, 2013 at the age of 94. Despite the many thousands, if not millions, of people killed by his invention, he insisted that he didn't let it get to him.

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

However Kalashnikov did express regret over his weapon falling into the hands of terrorists. So how and where did Kalashnikov get the idea to build such a formidable firearm? During World War II, the Nazis had military technology far superior to their enemy, the Russians. The StG44 was one of their most prized works and was nicknamed the Storm Rifle. It effectively replaced machine gun crews accustomed to carry around heavy weapons systems. The StG44 was the world's first successful assault rifle and it killed many Russian soldiers. The gun was effectively reverse engineered by Russian and American forces after the end of World War II. Kalashnikov was one of them.

"Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer," said Kalashnikov. "I always wanted to construct agricultural machinery."

The AK-47 displays miserable accuracy at long range, but that is its only weakness. The gun is study and has a great length-to-weight ratio. It never jams and can work while covered in mud, after being submerged in water (fresh or salt) and in the dustiest environments known to man (think the Mid-East). A savvy person can make a working AK-47 out of spare parts for less than $10. Its operation is so straightforward that child soldiers like those in the Lord's Resistance Army are masters at using it before they are even teenagers.

The gun has even become an icon. Just look at the Republic of Mozambique's flag and you can see an AK-47 is featured prominently next to the stripes. Russia (and the USSR before that) even made Kalashnikov an honorary general, in addition to awarding him the Order of Lenin and numerous other honors. Kalashnikov is the gun's namesake, and the two are hard to separate.

What do you think of the AK-47 being so readily available? Are you for or against gun control? Let us know in the comments section below.