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Members of Congress to Clinton: Revisit Decision on M1 Rifles and M1 Carbines

Friday, October 8, 2010

U.S. senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle are urging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to revisit the State Department's March 2010 decision disallowing the importation of M1 rifles and M1 carbines from South Korea.

In a letter to Secretary Clinton, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and 15 other senators state that the importation disapproval "amounts to no more than a backdoor gun ban that lacks any basis or justification under current Federal law and policy" and "violates law-abiding citizens' constitutional right, protected under the Second Amendment, to purchase these firearms for legitimate purposes such as target shooting, hunting, collecting, and self-protection."

The senators question the department's opinion that the rifles "could potentially be exploited by individuals seeking firearms for illicit purposes," and request from Secretary Clinton "an explanation of your reasons for blocking the importation and sale of American-made rifles from South Korea."

In a separate letter to Secretary Clinton, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) also disagreed with the department's opinion that importation of the rifles would constitute a public safety risk, saying "The importation of these antique rifles . . . does not pose a security threat to our nation." Sen. Webb added, "Hundreds of thousands of these firearms are already in the United States, and substantially more advanced and powerful firearms are already available."

In another letter to Clinton, Congressman John Boozman (R-Ark.) and 65 other members of the House also objected to the department's stated concern that the rifles might be "exploited . . . for illicit purposes," calling it "a reiteration of tired arguments by gun control advocates." The Boozman letter also noted "these are the very same types of rifles that have been sold by the federal government to civilians for decades through the Civlian Marksmanship Program.

In yet another letter to Clinton, Congressman Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and 44 other members of the House of Representatives noted that "the M1 is one of the two rifles most commonly used at the National Matches, a marksmanship competition authorized by federal law" and that "there are separate competitions dedicated to each of the two rifles" (the M1 rifle and the M1 carbine). Rep. Donnelly's letter, like Sen. Cornyn's, noted that NICS checks would be required on any of the rifles sold in the United States, as would be the case with any imported firearm.

Meanwhile Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), who signed Rep. Donnelly's letter, has introduced H.R. 6240, The Collectible Firearms Protection Act, which would allow for the importation of lawfully importable U.S.-origin surplus firearms without the approval of the Departments of State or Defense.

Of course, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), who on several occasions has introduced legislation that would ban the M1 rifle and the M1 carbine as "assault weapons" didn't sign either the Boozman or Donnelly letters.

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