The use of weapons indicates trust and rank. Grunts get swords, get a promotion you have a musket, get a promotion and you have a real gun. A dictator has to be worried about coups and insurrection as much as invasion, by controlling the flow of weapons, he can control his "unknown" enemies 5th column resources.
Of course, then a boat of Chinese warlords turn up armed with a near endless supply of machine guns?
But you heard them, owning a fire arm is a hanging offence.
Which makes the whole thing political, and not related to the blackout.
Apparently bullets are very easy to make.
a hand cranking bullet making making machine doesn't look too different from a spaghetti maker.