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BATFE's Colossal Screwup

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Article by Steve Schreiner

We, as U.S. citizens, have a problem with our own Department of State and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). It revolves around the re-importation of our own property back from overseas. Involved are nearly a million U.S.-made M-1 Carbines and M-1 Garand rifles, which have been in the Republic of South Korea since the end of active hostilities commonly referred to as the Korean War in the early 1950s. Notice that I didn't say the end of the Korean War, because an armistice has never been signed, just a cease-fire. Hostile acts by North Korea have been frequent and numerous over the decades since then.

These weapons were given/loaned to the South Koreans in much the same manner we supplied our allies in the World War II Lend-Lease Program. They were a legal transfer of our property for South Korea to use in repelling Communist aggression from North Korea and the People’s Republic of China. The South Korean government used these arms (usually referred to as the .30 caliber family of weapons) as their primary infantry armament for their ground forces for many years until they replaced them with their own thoroughly modern indigenous designs, namely their Daewoo (pronounced day-uuu) K-1 and K-2 .223/5.45x45mmNATO-caliber rifle and carbine systems, respectively, designed and manufactured in the Republic of South Korea. These small arms take standard U.S. M-16 magazines, but the rest is pure South Korean design and excellent workmanship.

A few were imported into the U.S. in semi-automatic mode rather than the Korean military-issue select-fire versions, prior to the 1994 semi-automatic rifle ban during the Clinton administration for civilian consumption. Consider yourself lucky if you own one.

In the intervening decades since the Korean War, the South Korean government kept the old .30 caliber M-1 Carbines and M-1 Garand rifles in storage as back-up to their current needs, just in case the crazy North Korean communists made an invasion of the South a reality once again. Eventually, they became surplus to South Korea’s defense needs and a decision was made to dispose of them on the surplus arms market. Now they couldn’t sell them to just anyone in the world, being an ally of the United States. The weapons are still U.S. property and subject to the provisions of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, eventually meant to be returned to the United States.

This is where the U.S. Department of State and the BATFE become involved. The State Department enforces the rules established by law in the U.S. Arms Control and Export Act concerning the importation and/or re-importation of weapons to the U.S., including those that were made here and meant to be returned here. There are numerous, specific criteria to be met to qualify for re-importation. For instance, all of these weapons are more than fifty years old. They are capable only of semiautomatic fire, that is, one shot for each pull of the trigger in this case, and most certainly are not machine guns capable of full-automatic fire.

They are in very well used condition for the most part, having been used by the South Koreans for their originally intended purpose of the defense of their country against communist aggression.

Once it was learned by interested parties that these properly held weapons were available as surplus to South Korean needs, an application was made to State for them to be re-imported into the United States, with the ultimate purpose of their being made available for sale on the commercial market to the American public.

State, under the second Bush administration, approved the re-importation of the arms: 770,000 M-1 Carbines and 87,310 M-1 Garand rifles. They were covered for re-import into the United States under the provisions of the U.S. Arms Export and Control Act. But these things take time due to bureaucratic malaise and waffling. The administration changed hands in the meantime.

Then, during the following Obama administration, the BATFE got into the act by putting forth a specious document making false claims about how dangerous these arms are once in civilian hands, “being the weapons of choice of gang members.” When State received this false declaration, with absolutely no proof to back up BATFE’s statements, its bureaucrats reneged on their previous approval of the arms re-importation, directly due to the Obama administration and BATFE influence. This occurred even though the pending approval of re-importation had become public knowledge by that time and the arrival of the guns had been eagerly anticipated. The culprits are both the BATFE and the Department of State.

U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) had a bill in the last, 111th Congress, the Collectible Firearms Protection Act, H.R. 6240, which would have covered and protected these M-1 Carbines and M-1 Garand rifles. Call Representative Lummis at 202-225-2311 and urge her to re-introduce this bill in this Congress. Call your own U.S. representatives and urge them to co-sponsor her legislation on this matter. Your U.S. representative can be reached by calling 202-225-3121 and your U.S. senator at 202-224-3121, or find additional contact information using the “Write your Rep.” tool at www.NRAILA.org.

Put the Obama administration on the spot as not being friendly to the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms unless they approve the re-importation of these historic arms of American heritage.

Steve Schreiner, a Silver Star recipient in Nam and top rated 2nd Amendment lobbyist in Colorado, is running for the NRA Board of Directors, Please vote for him...I am, RKB