Senate, House bills filed to clear sale of S. Korean guns

The New Gun Week

Legislation to lift the US State Department’s blockade on the sale of some 100,000 or more World War II and Korean War era Garand rifles and M1 Carbines to the US market by the South Korean government has been filed in both houses of Congress.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), with Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) as a cosponsor, has announced introduction of legislation to allow American-made guns that were given or sold to a foreign government to be re-imported and sold in the US.

Tester’s bill, the Collectible Firearms Protection Act, came just days after he and other senators sent a bipartisan letter pushing the US State Department to reconsider a decision denying the proposed sale of surplus M1 Carbines and Garand rifles from South Korea to qualified American buyers.

Meanwhile, the Billings Gazette reported that Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) are filing a bipartisan companion bill, with the same title, in the House seeking to stop the federal government from interfering with the legal importation of surplus collectable US-made firearms from South Korea.  Lummis’ office says the Obama administration is using the State Department to prevent the importation and sale of collectible, American-made M1 Garand rifles and M1 Carbines from South Korea to U.S. Citizens.  Lummis said such firearms transactions are already regulated by the Justice Department.

Both the House and Senate bills contain language removing the Departments of State and Defense from the regulatory process.

Under the Tester and Lummis bills firearms that are lawfully possessed by a foreign government—and that are more than 50 years old and considered antiques or relics—may be re-imported to properly licensed groups and sold without permission from the US Departments of State or Defense.

“When we’re talking about American guns used to defeat the Nazis in World War II, we’re talking about a piece of America’s heritage—not a threat to public safety,” Tester said. “If a decision isn’t going to be made to allow the responsible sale of these firearms to law-abiding Americans, then we need legislation to get it done.”

“This bill is about putting good, plain common sense into practice,” Baucus said.  “These guns are pieces of history that tell the American story, and law-abiding citizens ought to have the right to purchase them legally.”

According to earlier news reports, the State Department rejected South Korea’s proposal to sell its surplus of American-made M1 Carbines and Garand rifles to US buyers over concerns that the firearms “could be exploited by individuals seeking firearms for illicit purposes.”  The State Department also cited “safety concerns.”

Tester and other senators rejected that reasoning earlier in a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, with copies to Attorney General Eric Holder and Kenneth Melson, acting director of ATF.