This discussion will – I hope – get the attention of American shooters, competitive marksmen and military rifle collectors – young and old. Even if you’re not in this category, it should be of interest to concerned taxpayers – because the news is that South Korea (ROK) intends to sell off (and keep the proceeds from) several thousand old M1 military rifles. These are probably the same rifles we loaned them 50 odd years ago – and we still own them.
However, the Obama/Clinton STATE Department has reportedly denied the “import” of these rifles from Korea on the theory that they might “fall into the wrong hands” here in the US. The stories also report that the Korean plan was to sell them in bulk to importers who were then going to resell them in the US.
As I read the stories, however, I had a different reaction, at least to the idea of a “sale” of the rifles by the ROK and the “import” of them back into the US. Because of my background and experience in military “Security Assistance”, I thought that the rifles had most likely been transferred to the Koreans under the old “MAP” or “Military Assistance Program” that we had in the 60’s.
This was a “grant aid” program, which meant that they were not “sold” to the Koreans, and the ROK did not own them. They were loaned, and remained the property of the US government, specifically the US Army, who was the “logistic implementer” for the MAP program.
During the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s we had several MAP recipient countries and Korea was one of the largest. MAP programs were phased down in the 70’s with the passage of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) in 1978 and the creation of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
So, I started looking around for some historical “proof” of what I knew was probably the case with these rifles – it didn’t take me long to find an official US Army historical report that confirms how these rifles probably got to Korea in the first place, and under what circumstances. Here is the “smoking gun” – no pun intended:
“Due to increased North Korean aggression and infiltration, the supply of Army materiel for the prior and current year Korean military assistance program has been expedited, including a shipment of large numbers of individual weapons to arm the Republic of Korea Homeland Defense Reserve Forces.”
Source: “Department of the Army Historical Summary, FY 1969”. Page 4 of Chapter XI., “Military Assistance and Foreign Liaison”.
So, most likely, the “large numbers” of these rifles (described as “individual weapons”) were transferred to the ROK to use for their defense during the 60’s; and, because they most likely were and still are MAP property, the rifles remain the property of the US – unless they were subsequently sold or otherwise transferred to the ROK.
What should happen? Simple, because these rifles remain US property, they should be returned to the US Army, then sent on to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) organization in Anniston, Alabama, for safety inspection, grading and carefully controlled sale to authorized collectors and American shooting clubs.
And, there is very little risk that rifles sold through the CMP would “fall into the wrong hands”. This is because, over the years, the CMP has disposed of thousands of MAP rifles returned from various other countries (Denmark, Greece, etc.) for the overall benefit of the shooting sports and the maintenance of civilian marksmanship skills. Also, while the CMP is not an official US government entity, it is a corporation created by the US Congress with a carefully drawn charter, professional management and oversight by a distinguished Board of Directors.
So, one has to ask themselves why the transaction is being characterized (by the STATE Department) as a “sale” and “import” in the first place?
Easy: If the operative act is described as the purchase of the rifles by private arms dealers for “import” into the US, then the STATE Department (and the ATF) might have jurisdiction to regulate the transaction and even to “deny” the import as they might for any other firearms import. Can you see how this could be part of an anti-gun scam? The other part is probably even more political: There is no chance – during the Obama Administration – that DOD or the Army is going to request officially that these rifles be returned.
If the goal of anti-gun zealots in the Obama Administration is to keep these rifles – some even classified as antiques – out of the US any way they can, then this scam needs to be broken up before any of the operative parts are implemented.
How? The Congress may have to direct the President or Secretary of State to inform the ROK that they cannot sell these rifles unless they show they own them. The next step is to generate the requisite political pressure (via Public Law and otherwise) on the administration to request the return of the MAP rifles from the ROK, so that the US Army can send them on to the CMP for grading and careful disposition to shooting clubs and collectors.
This is what should happen if the Obama Administration does what they should responsibly do: Rather than describing the operative transaction as an “import”, it most likely is the simple return of loaned military property – paid for long ago by patriotic Americans.
Finally, see for yourself the nature and quality of the CMP organization – and how carefully and responsibly it carries out its mandate: Go to www.odcmp.com and read the charter, look at the annual report and learn how they carry out their important mandate. And, if you qualify, go ahead and buy a historically significant US military rifle – and shoot it at your club.
Daniel Gallington, a national security and intelligence policy consultant, is a Senior Fellow and Member of the Board of Regents at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va.