Tens of thousands of M1 Garand rifles and even more M1 Carbines lay in storage somewhere in South Korea. Originally shipped to the Asian nation several decades ago to help equip their military, the weapons are now outdated on the modern battlefield. Among collectors and enthusiasts however, they are held up as invaluable pieces of American history and ingenuity. Stocks of the rifle within the U.S. are fast dwindling (if not depleted already) and those who want to get their hands on one are looking across the Pacific.
Those in favor of returning these firearms home have been trying for years to import the surplus rifles and carbines. The South Korean government was eager to offload the rifles for much needed funds, but efforts to ship the rifles back were blocked repeatedly on the U.S. end due to security concerns. Those against the import say that the firearms could be purchased by individuals for illicit purposes. Gun advocates say that was no reason to ban the import of the rifles.
“Any guns that retail in the United States, of course, including these [M1 Garands], can only be sold to someone who passes the National Instant Check System,” David Kopel, research director at the conservative Independence Institute, told Fox News in 2010. “There is no greater risk from these particular guns than there is from any other guns sold in the United States.”
In 2012 it seemed that the federal government reversed its decision and will be allowing the M1 Garands to come home, along with a limited number of carbines. The plan was for the firearms to be auctioned off and imported to the U.S., where they will be sold through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. Reportedly, the State Department delayed the import and now will not allow the rifles to enter the country. Frustrated over the situation, U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) recently introduced a bill to counter the State Department’s decision.
“It’s disappointing that legislation is even necessary to allow U.S. citizens to access perfectly legal and regulated firearms, in this case storied, U.S.-made rifles that are pieces of U.S. military history,” Rep. Lummis said. “This is a political stunt on the part of the State Department, pure and simple, while denying the exercise of Second Amendment rights by law-abiding citizens, firearm collectors, and competitive marksmen. The State Department has no business blocking domestic firearm ownership; they are way out of bounds and my legislation will put them back in their place.”
A release on the congresswoman’s website read:
On Tuesday U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) introduced H.R. 2247, the Collectible Firearms Protection Act. The bill reverses a State Department decision to block the importation of historic M1 Garand rifles and M1 carbines from South Korea. Originally furnished by the United States to South Korea for military purposes over 50 years ago, the rifles are widely sought collectors’ items and among the most popular rifles in marksmanship competitions. The rifles are perfectly legal to manufacture and sell in the United States and like all firearm imports would be subject to the federal rules and regulations governing retail firearm sales. A similar sale from South Korea was approved during the Reagan Administration. The current State Department’s interference with the sale runs counter to the intent of Congress, which on two prior occasions amended the law to allow for this kind of transaction.
Thanks to The Truth About Guns for highlighting this bill.