A stealth plan by the Obama administration to classify hundreds of thousands of workhorse rifles used by the U.S. military and public alike as dangerous has prompted a grass-roots campaign to save the weapons, and a key U.S. senator has lent his voice to the effort.
“If we’re going to reverse President Obama’s Million Rifle Ban, gun owners have to turn the heat up on Congress now before it’s too late,” writes Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in a campaign launched by National Association for Gun Rights.
“Please sign your Firearms Freedom Survey and put yourself squarely against President Obama’s Million Rifle Ban.”
The effort urges taxpayers to commit to voting against any senator who “votes to maintain Barack Obama’s M1 Garand Rifle Ban.”
The controversy developed, as WND reported in 2010, when the Korean government requested the transfer of hundreds of thousands of the rifles to U.S. private entities for subsequent commercial resale.
The weapons, however, suddenly were classified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as a “threat to the public safety in the U.S.” The State Department then canceled plans by the Republic of Korea to return the weapons, totaling a little short of a million.
At the time, David Codrea, who writes as the Gun Rights Examiner, said, “If I read this right, what they’re saying is, every gun poses a threat to public safety in the U.S. This is the same rationale used in model-specific ‘assault weapons’ bans – the type of gun is somehow deemed relevant, even though untold numbers of such firearms are already peaceably owned in this country, and even though no supporting evidence for this conclusion exists beyond agenda-promoting speculation.”
Sources told WND that the State Department in May 2009 approved a “request by the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) to transfer 87,310 M1 Garand rifles and 770,160 M1 carbine rifles to U.S. private entities for subsequent commercial resale in the United States.”
But the ATF contacted the State Department and argued the stock of rifles “poses a threat to public safety in the U.S.” As a result, the State Department reversed its decision.
Now the National Association for Gun Rights is urging citizens to inform Congress of their opposition.
According to Americans for Constitutional Government Reform, the rifle largely is credited with giving American soldiers an advantage that contributed to victory in World War II.
“During the Korean War, nearly 1 million of these rifles were brought to South Korea and left with the South Korean government afterward. Now, South Korea wants to give American gun collectors the chance to get their hands of this unique piece of history,” the organization said.
But the opposition from the Obama administration has derailed the plans.
“Make no mistake; these rifles were made in America, by Americans, for Americans, to defend freedom on foreign shores,” the organization’s report said.
“The State Department’s outrageous claims are nothing more than a thinly veiled ploy to distract from the real issue: President Obama’s deep seated hatred for gun rights,” the report said. “While his gun-grabbing base is giddy with praise at this back-door gun ban, law-abiding citizens across the United States are crying foul.”
The organization explained it has been common practice since the end of World War II to re-import the rifles from foreign allies to whom they were lent.
The group warned that Obama’s goal is to destroy the rifles.
The Garand, once praised by Gen. George S. Patton, arrived as a service rifle in the military in 1936 and was issued routinely until 1957.
The gun expert who acted as a source for WND said the implications of the case are significant for several reasons. One is that a 5-year-old could figure out that if the government classifies one type of rifle as a “threat,” there could be similar designations for other kinds of firearms.
Further, he said a team of ATF managers took the initiative in writing the agency’s condemnation of the Garand. He noted the agency from 2003-2009 traced an estimated 1.8 million guns for various reasons.
But of those, only some 1,900 were Garands.
“It’s a very select core of old-school ATF narcissists who have just become too powerful and too arrogant,” the source reported.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of State explained to WND when the re-importation ban initially was announced that the permission had been granted for the rifles to be shipped to the U.S., then it was rescinded.
The decision, explained Karl Duckworth, was prompted because of “concerns that such large numbers” of weapons would be brought into the U.S. and they could be “exploited for illicit purposes.”
However, he said he could not elaborate on who expressed the concerns.
Codrea has described the classification as a “beachhead” for gun control.
“This is the grave threat to the republic?” Codrea asked. “This is nothing less than legislation by unaccountable bureaucrats with an agenda that has nothing to do with legitimate delegated authority.”
Former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo wrote at the time about guns becoming endangered under Obama.
“A U.N. resolution adopted in October calls upon member nations to negotiate the matter and finish writing a [gun control] treaty by 2012. The United States voted for the resolution, which was adopted almost unanimously,” he said in a commentary. “President Bush, for all his mistakes and miscalculations, never allowed his U.N. representatives to participate in such negotiations. But Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reversed course and agreed to join the negotiations.”
He said it is such treaties that offer serious threats to the U.S.
“What conventional arms treaties do is constrain the actions of law-abiding nations and law-abiding citizens while allowing outlaw nations and leftist guerrilla groups to build their arsenals,” he said. “If you think such international treaties apply only to sales and exchanges among nations and not to individuals, you have not been paying attention to the Obama administration’s agenda and to what activist judges have been doing in American courts.”
But states already have begun rebelling against federal rules for guns, with eight formally adopting laws that exempt guns made, sold and kept within the states from federal regulations.
A court case over that law now is pending in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The description of guns as a “threat” recalls the themes in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report in 2009 that characterized “right-wing extremists” as opponents of abortion and illegal immigration and supporters of gun rights and third-party political candidates.
WND reported on a Department of Homeland Security report that warned against the possibility of violence by unnamed “right-wing extremists” concerned about illegal immigration, increasing federal power, restrictions on firearms, abortion and the loss of U.S. sovereignty. The report singled out returning war veterans as particular threats.
The report, “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” stated “threats from white supremacist and violent anti-government groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts.”
However, the document, first reported by talk-radio host and WND columnist Roger Hedgecock, went on to suggest worsening economic woes, potential new legislative restrictions on firearms and “the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”
The report from DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis defined right-wing extremism in the U.S. as “divided into those groups, movements and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups) and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
Most notable was the report’s focus on the impact of returning war veterans.
“Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists,” it said. “DHS/I&A is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize veterans in order to boost their violent capacities.”