More than a century ago, Congress established the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and authorized it to sell surplus military firearms to Americans interested in improving their marksmanship in support of national defense. "The Board," as it was commonly known among avid rifle shooters for decades, now exists as the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP).
To the everlasting benefit of all of us who are committed to maintaining Americans' marksmanship superiority over the peoples of all other countries on Earth, the CMP has continued to sell M1 Garands, many in outstanding condition. In doing so, the program has given tens of thousands of Americans the chance to develop their rifle skills with one of the most important firearms in our nation's history--which Gen. George S. Patton described as "the single greatest battle implement ever devised"--and to test those skills in its popular John C. Garand Matches, held across the country and during the National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. As the legendary Jeff Cooper once observed, "the purpose of shooting is hitting," and the contribution of John C. Garand and the CMP to that worthy goal has been immeasurable.
However, you know how President Obama feels about guns.
On Thursday, Obama's gun expert, Vice-President Joe "Two Blasts" Biden, announced that the president will use his executive authority and provisions of the Arms Export Control Act to deny future applications, by private importers, to import "surplus military weapons" for sale to private citizens. Lest there be any confusion, in this instance "surplus military weapons" means rifles, pistols and shotguns, and excludes fully-automatics, which haven't been legal to import for sale to private citizens since 1968.
The White House says that the new policy is intended to "keep surplus military weapons off our streets." But anti-gunners' worn-out "on the streets" line, always grossly exaggerated, is especially so in this instance. Americans own hundreds of thousands of surplus military firearms, yet the nation's murder rate is half of what it was 20 years ago, and is now at its lowest point since 1963. As Fox News observed, the firearms that Obama has moved to restrict are at least 50 years old and "it is safe to assume that few are used in crimes." Of course, the same firearms are legal to manufacture in the United States, suggesting either (or both) a profound lack of understanding of firearms on the administration's part, or that Obama's policies are driven by little, if anything, more than ideology unfiltered by reality.
How quickly they forget
It remains to be seen how Obama's latest salvo against the right to arms will play out. But when the federal "assault weapon" and "large" magazine bans of 1994 were imposed, Americans responded by buying AR-15s at an even greater rate than before, and by buying a new generation of ultra-compact handguns just barely capable of holding 10 rounds, such as the Glock 26.
So, we won't be surprised if Americans respond to the president's new importation ban by heading straight to the CMP Store for an authentic 8-round, fixed magazine certified U.S.G.I. M1, or to a local gun shop for a 30-round, detachable magazine AR-15, and put on the finishing touch by attending the modern equivalent of the defensive skill-based rifle shooting events that NRA and "The Board" introduced over a century ago--the NRA's new National Defense Match.
Along with moving against firearm importation, Obama intends to require FBI fingerprint-based background checks on the trustees and beneficiaries of corporations and trusts that have firearms. NRA is reviewing the proposed rule on this matter and will withhold comment until the review is complete.
Finally, during the event at which Vice-President Biden announced the president's new gun control initiatives, Todd Jones was sworn in as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones, nominated by Obama for the post in January and approved by the Senate in July, formerly served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota.