Tester: Lift State Dept. M-1 Import Ban

Tester makes a phone call
Sen. Jon Tester (D.-Mont.)

A Big Sky Democrat senator joined a chorus of frustrated M-1 enthusiasts as Obama intransigents continue to ignore bipartisan efforts to return American heritage firearms from South Korea.


“Over a year ago, I made it clear that the State Department shouldn’t be denying responsible Americans their Second Amendment rights. It’s a shame that the State Department keeps slow-walking this process because what we’re talking about here is a piece of America’s heritage, nothing more,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D.-Mont.) , who is up for re-election in 2012.

Two years ago, the Republic of Korea offered to sell over 80,000 American-made Korean War-era M-1 Garands back to the State Department, but in 2010, the State Department refused to allow the historic weapons into the United States, said Erich M. Pratt, communications director for Gun Owners of America.

 “The only thing that we can surmise is the anti-gun animus that this administration holds towards our Second Amendment rights,” said Pratt.

GOA issued a letter, e-mailed, and encouraged its members to put pressure on Congress to support the Garand sale, he said.

Yet, over a year after the 2010 decision to disallow entry to nearly a million firearms, the State Department has not replied to Gun Owners of America, he said.

Tester wrote a letter opposing the State Department’s decision Sept. 2010; when he also did not receive a favorable response, he sponsored legislation that would guarantee curio importation without the State Department’s intervention, he said in a Sept. 30, 2010 statement.


“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,” he said.

In February Tester again sponsored the Collectible Firearms Protection Act, S. 381, to guarantee that the State Department cannot regulate curio, collectible, and heritage firearms, according to Senate records.

Meanwhile, Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis (R.-Wyo.) introduced the corresponding H.R. 615 Collectible Firearms Protection Act the same session.

Sen. John R. Thune (R.-S.D.) also worked on a letter writing campaign to encourage the administration to reverse the anti-Garand policy, he said in a Jun. 14 interview with Guns & Patriots, a Human Events e-newsletter.

“Collectors obviously would have a great interest in some of these weapons, and it certainly makes sense to me to allow them to be able to acquire those,” he said.

The State Department originally approved South Korean request to transfer 87,310 M-1 Garand rifles and 770,160 M-1 carbine rifles to American private companies in a May 7, 2009 letter, according to a 2010 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives advisory.


But, the advisory warned the importation of the M-1’s would be a perilous step.

“ATF believes the importation of these firearms, particularly the M-1 carbine rifle and M-1911 pistol, poses a threat to public safety in the U.S.,” according to the BATFE advisory.

The BATFE advised that if the State Department allowed the Garand sale from South Korea back to the United States, it would set a dangerous precedent for other countries to sell firearms in their possession back to the U.S., according to the advisory.

The advisory acknowledges that historic Garands do not make good criminal weapons. “It is unlikely that a significant number of the M-1 Garands will be used in crimes.”


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