Graphic at Century Arms.
There has been considerable confusion in the press -- dinosaur and electronic -- about just what Obama's "Executive Order" does and does not say about the repatriation of U.S. military weapons from foreign governments. What follows is what I have learned from sources in DC, Martinsburg, WV, Newtown, CT, and elsewhere. Typical of some of the statements is this one from the accommodationist National Shooting Sports Foundation. (I will have another column tomorrow about their making common cause with Mayor Bloomberg's Illegal Mayors Against Guns on the issue of NICS checks). The headline of their press release read:
Obama has decided to completely shut down imports of so-called “U.S. origin” military collectible firearms, but that’s basically the same policy that’s been in place for years, with exceptions few and far between.
The Daily Caller was even more off the mark, leaping to this illusion: Obama’s new executive order will kill the 110-year-old Civilian Marksmanship Program.
Now that would be startling news, if true, so I've spent the last few days running that allegation down. It is not true. As NSSF said in an industry email three days ago (after their error was brought to their attention by an industry insider):
From: National Shooting Sports Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org)Date: September 6, 2013To: REDACTED
CMP Is Still in Business; Media Coverage of Obama Executive Order on Surplus Rifles Not Always on TargetThe leadership of Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) would like to point out that it is still very much in business, some media reports to the contrary. While the Obama administration has issued an executive order that 60-year-old semi-automatic rifles, the legendary M1 Garands and M1 Carbines of World War II fame, can no longer be re-imported into the U.S. for purchase by collectors and target shooters, unlike commercial entities CMP does not technically “re-import” its rifles, so its acquisition of these rifles is not affected. NSSF has asked ATF to provide details on the scope and breadth of the executive order and we will report on what we learn.
Well, give the NSSF credit for correcting their error. The Daily Caller has yet to do so. In any event, my sources say that the "Executive Order" was not, in fact, an official executive order but rather just a bit of rule-making which none of my sources has yet seen the text of.
First, to understand why this would have no effect on CMP, you must understand that it doesn't (and never has) imported such weapons. CMP gets its Garands and other rifles from the U.S. Army out of stocks returned to the Department of Defense from countries which we previously gave them as military assistance. CMP does import ammunition and parts such as bayonets from other countries, but weapons? No.
One source told me, "Look, nobody's seen the exact language of this thing. It was all a dog-and-pony show calculated to placate the Brady Bunch. 2247 (H.R. 2247, the Collectible Firearms Protection Act) is still waiting in the wings and the congress will likely pass it. This was just a PR stake-in-the-heart to the Century deal, which was dead already."
Century Arms, readers may recall, had previously obtained permission to import 80,000 M-1 Garands from the Republic of Korea when the Obama administration reversed itself. Yet, according to my sources, that deal may have gone south long before the reversal. According to a couple industry insiders, the Koreans insisted that they had purchased the weapons from the U.S. government, rather than receiving them as foreign aid. The Army denied this. Thus, the ROK didn't want to merely hand them back to our DoD for a song, but wished to sell them on the open market, in this case to Century. Their asking price, according to one source, was in the neighborhood of $300 each. Century, it is rumored, balked at this price while at the same time pursuing the import permits in the hopes of talking the ROKs down. When that did not happen, according to two sources, Century decided the deal wouldn't work for them. However, Century's reaction to the "executive non-order" can be found here here in a clarion call to support H.R. 2247.
And without the precise language of the "executive suggestion," we cannot know exactly what effect it will have on other importation deals. In any event CMP is still going to be in business selling Garands and sources say that they expect a clarifying email announcement from Anniston directly.