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Questions Arise Over Army Bases’ Disposition of Surplus Cartridge Cases

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Last week, NRA-ILA learned that quantities of once-fired small arms cartridge cases recovered from firing ranges on military bases, which by federal law the Department of Defense is prohibited from demilitarizing or destroying, were being sold for scrap.

A governing law in this matter, developed with input from NRA-ILA, is a rider to the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. It stipulates that “None of the funds available to the Department of Defense may be used to demilitarize or dispose of M-1 Carbines, M-1 Garand rifles, M-14 rifles, .22 caliber rifles, .30 caliber rifles, or M-1911 pistols, or to demilitarize or destroy small arms ammunition or ammunition components that are not otherwise prohibited from commercial sale under Federal law, unless the small arms ammunition or ammunition components are certified by the Secretary of the Army or designee as unserviceable or unsafe for further use.” However, military bases are authorized to dispose of a variety of items, including surplus cartridge cases, via the Qualified Recycling Program, in place for more than a decade.

NRA members will recall that it was one year ago when a bureaucratic glitch led to the Department of Defense temporarily suspending sales of once-fired cartridge cases.  Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D) quickly conveyed to the Defense Logistics Agency their judgment that “The destruction of fired brass is unwarranted and has far reaching implications,” including its “impact on small businesses who sell reloaded ammunition utilizing these fired casings, and upon individual gun owners who purchase spent military brass at considerable cost savings for their personal use.” A summary of last year’s “demil” controversy can be reviewed here.

Last week, NRA-ILA again contacted Senators Baucus and Tester to request that they investigate the current disposition of surplus small arms cartridge cases with a view to determining the best way to assure their continued provision to Americans who buy the cases for resale and reloading use. Jointly, Senators Baucus and Tester have made their concerns known to the Defense Logistics Agency and asked its chief to explain, by April 15, the extent which military installations have contracted with private companies for the scrapping of fired cartridge cases, whether such contracts comply with federal law, and what steps the agency is taking “to ensure that all interested buyers have the opportunity to purchased once-fired small arms cartridge cases.”

NRA will continue working with members of Congress and the Pentagon to guarantee that the long-standing practice of making surplus military small arms cartridge cases available for reuse by reloaders continues in perpetuity. NRA members are encouraged to inform their U.S. Senators and Representatives that they expect Army bases to do everything possible to ensure the continued supply of once-fired cartridge cases through channels making them available to the public.

You can call your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121, and your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121 or use our "Write Your Representatives" tool.

Click here to read the letter from Senators Baucus and Tester
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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.