Obama Signs Defense Bill Allowing Public Sale of Surplus 1911 Pistols

   11.30.15

It may still be November, but Christmas may have come early for firearm enthusiasts and collectors eagerly anticipating the thousands of surplus 1911 pistols that are now headed to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP).

The news that roughly 100,000 surplus M1911 and M1911A1 pistols could be transferred to the organization after US Representative Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) under an amendment to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act led to much excitement across the gun world. However, President Barack Obama vetoed an earlier draft of the bill last month, citing inadequate funding for military healthcare, meaningful reform, and language that would prevent the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Obama signed a revised bill last Wednesday after the approval of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which including a number of changes to discretionary spending.

“The Congress has now revised the National Defense Authorization Act to incorporate these new funding changes and has altered the funding authorization provisions to which I objected,” Obama said in a statement last week. “I am therefore signing this annual defense authorization legislation because it includes vital benefits for military personnel and their families, authorities to facilitate ongoing operations around the globe, and important reforms to the military retirement system, as well as partial reforms to other military compensation programs.”

Among other things, the defense bill authorizes appropriations for the Department of Defense and a host of policy updates, including allowing personal firearms on stateside bases, streamlining the process for adopting military dogs and other animals by their former handlers, and developing gender-neutral occupational standards.

The passage of the act also means that 100,000 1911 pistols may soon be headed to the CMP, where they could be purchased by the general public. The M1911 is one of the most iconic and revered firearms in US military history. First designed by the now-legendary gun maker John Browning in 1911, the pistol has served with distinction in the US military for 75 years before being replaced by the Beretta M9 in 1986. Updated versions of the pistol are still in service with select military units around the world.

According to Rogers, it cost taxpayers about $200,000 each year to store the surplus pistols, of which only about 8,000 have been sold to law enforcement agencies or transferred abroad. The signing of the authorization act means that 10,000 of the firearms will be transferred over to the CMP for a pilot program, and if all goes well, the rest of the stock will be offered as well.

“As a gun owner and strong believer in the Second Amendment, my proposal is a common-sense approach to eliminating an unnecessary cost to the Federal government while allowing the very capable CMP to handle the 1911 sale of these vintage firearms that otherwise would just sit in storage,” Rogers said in a press release in May. “This amendment is a win-win for the taxpayer.”

Rogers represents the district that includes the Anniston Army Depot, where the surplus firearms are kept. The CMP’s primary warehouse, sales processing, and distribution center are also located in Anniston, Alabama.

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