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“In an executive order the Obama Administration has secretly blocked the re-importation of American made M-1 Garand and Carbine rifles being stored in South Korea,” the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) asserts. “These rifles were used by the US military during the Korean War and left there after the war was over. With one stroke of his pen, he by-passed the legislative process and banned nearly a million American made rifles by executive fiat.” Yes, well, a few points of clarification . . .

The blocked sale (technically not a ban) wan’t a secret; it just went unremarked and unreported for a while. The U.S. never used the M-1 rifles in question; they were part of a lend-lease deal for the South Koreans, who stored the unused firearms in case of war.

Although it’s true that the State Department’s rationale for blocking the sale is inherently preposterous, the Obama administration wasn’t doing an end-run on democracy. They have the legal power to stop the importation deal. And the South Koreans have 857,470 spare rifles. That’s 142,530 weapons shy of a million.

Close enough? As we mentioned before, this “issue” is a storm in a teacup. It’s not as if the American firearms market is hurting for rifles. Does it really matter if endless crates of broken-ass Garands flood the U.S. market, depressing rifle prices, or not?

They are antiques of historical interest, particularly for those who, unlike Clinton and her husband, served this country honorably in America’s foreign wars.

That’s a misrepresentation; historians have plenty of M-1 Garands. As for the cheap shot at Clinton, OK, that’s funny. Still, NAGR should choose its battles more carefully. The average gun owner isn’t going to see the [potential] destruction of hundreds of thousands of defunct South Koren weapons as an assault on their rights. Good for fund-raising. Bad for the brand.

Anyway, here’s an alternative theory on the motivation for the blocked sale, from commentator slobo:

Have you noticed that a huge quantity of brand new SKS’s have flooded the market, as not seen in thirty years. Where do you think those SKS’s were imported from? China? For sure. Importing the M1 Garands from South Korea would infringe on China’s ability to sell their SKS’s to the American public. This issue has nothing to do with the American public arming themselves, it is purely economic.

If not China, something. Not gun control per se, methinks.

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  1. Robert, you by far have the most common sense and critical thinking skills of any regular blogger about guns. I think this is truly an non issue. I cannot see any logical reason to import these relics. No one in their right mind is going to claim to need these particular guns for self defense ( home or otherwise) when there are already plenty of new and more reliable guns on the market. BEFORE I get branded the ANTI-GUNNER let me state I keep a tactical carbine and handgun for defense and would never give them up. I wouldn't trust these weapons which are older then me for the defense of home and hearth. Hunting and target practice sure. But I could get a 10-22 or AR15 for the same purpose.

  2. Hey, if a Korean era M1 Garand was good enough for Clint Eastwood, then it ought to be good enough for me!

    More seriously, I routinely trust a pistol much older than me for self-defence. Course, it's not a war relic. But still, 100% reliable and damned accurate.

  3. I own a Garand.

    I love it.

    It's awesome. There is nothing like hammering targets at 300 yards with .30-06 ease, and hearing that PING on the 8th round.

    It's a crying shame that even more Garands won't be coming home for the time being.

    Folks not upset about Obama kaboshing the importation of these lend-lease Garands have obviously never spent much time with one.

  4. As far as I can see, the SK gov needs the money. Even if they sold the weapons for $200 each, that would raise some serious cash for the SK army. US citizens would love to have these weapons. I just don't see why we would stop the sale? Unless of course our current administration would rather give the SK gov $200 million of taxpayer money rather than have them earn it from people who want to buy what they are selling…

  5. Robert Farago once again you have fundamentally missed the point. Reading this is like reading about alchemy, it is so incorrect that I hesitate to even try to explain correctly. Because if that is where you are starting from I doubt you will ever get to the right answer.

    From your blog posts you seem to be interested in the defensive uses of firearms. And that is great, I am glad that there are people such as yourself who advocate for gun rights, and for using firearms safely.

    However if you only advocate for those types of firearms and their uses you are shooting yourself in the foot so to speak. I see this same type of attitude in some hunters who think that 'evil black guns' should be banned, and anyone who was born after 1980 should not be allowed to hunt.

    This type of attitude is narrow, short sided, elitist, and eventually self defeating. The organizations who are in favor of banning Springfield Garands, are the same as those who want to ban your Springfield XD. However they are smart enough to attack each group one at a time, to try to divide us from mutually supporting each other.

    This is smart as it has been proven to work in other countries like the UK and in our own country in 1994. The only question is whether gun owners will be smart enough to work together and stop denigrating each others interests.

    And as for whether Americans want old M1 Garands and Carbines, I refer you to the ODCMP who is running out of rifles to sell to members, to where the average price of a shooter grade Garand has doubled in 10 years, and to those thousands of shooting clubs around the country competing every weekend.

    • Thanks for writing. First, it's not a ban. It's a blocked sale. It's a small but important distinction. American gun owners are free to buy, store, fire or sell M1 rifles as they see fit. Their rights have only been tangentially effected. At worst. If you squint. In the right light.

      While I understand that gun rights groups [want us to] see the blocked sale as arm's length gun control, I'd bet dollars to donuts that this is a business thing. Someone somewhere is putting pressure on Uncle Sam to stop a flood of cheap rifles from cratering the U.S. market for cheap rifles. As for the price of Garands doubling in ten years, so what? The price of gold coins has gone mental. Are either of these goods vital to personal or national security? I think not.

      Don't get me wrong. I believe in consistency of belief. If the feds blocked the importation of new weapons from an established gunmaker 'cause it might cause some mayhem or another, I'd man the barricades with you. But this? This is not the place to draw a line in the sand.

  6. Robert, I think the ire of gun owners is more likely related to the fact that a lot of collectors see this as the administration taking away from them the opportunity to pick up a Garand or Carbine at a bargain price (even if SK sold them to the US for $200 a pop and the importer doubled the price, it'd still be a bargain.)

    From my vague recollection (subject to correction) the ODCMP doesn't sell carbines because the pre-ODCMP organization, called DMA, ran out of carbines some time in the 60's or 70's.

    Of course, if Obama really wanted to court gun owners he could authorize the DoD to sell through ODCMP some of the thousands of M-14 rifles currently gathering dust in warehouses. The M-14 is select-fire, if it has the right parts attached, but from what I've heard (again, second hand) it would not be difficult to make the M-14's semi-auto only and thus legal for sale to civilians.

  7. Not, of course, that Obama has any interest in flattering gun owners with his attentions. He knows most of them are going to vote against him anyway and those that will vote for him will do so for reasons totally unrelated to his stance on gun issues.

  8. Mr. Farago,

    Where are you getting your information? Fox News has also reported that the U.S. DID use the rifles in question (

    What's the definition of "ban?" The term "ban" means: officially or legally prohibit. There's nothing wrong with calling this a "ban." While M1s aren't collectively banned, this particular collection of M1s have been banned from the U.S.

    I don't understand why you take issue with the statement: "They are antiques of historical interest, particularly for those who, unlike Clinton and her husband, served this country honorably in America’s foreign wars."

    Your response to the previous statement: "That’s a misrepresentation; historians have plenty of M-1 Garands." How is that a misrepresentation? Even if historians have plenty of M1s, that doesn't change the fact that the M1 is still a piece of history (regardless of how many are in circulation).

  9. Your "few points of clarification" seem to me to be a whole lot of conjecture and gut feelings.

    "First, it's not a ban. It's a blocked sale." This is demonstrably false. How so? Because the United States *still owns* the weapons in question, and has spun this as a "sale" so that it can fall in the BATFE's lap.

    "The average gun owner isn’t going to see the [potential] destruction of hundreds of thousands of defunct South Koren [sic] weapons as an assault on their rights." No, they are going to see it for exactly what it is: an attempt by the administration to pander to gun-control interest groups like the Brady Campaign who lobbied to have the importation of these rifles stopped (because that is actually what happened, as opposed to it being a business issue, which you wagered "dollars to donuts" it was).

  10. A little over the top don’t you think?
    It was the ATF that said that these relics could pose a threat to public safety. While they are obviously confused your notice bashes the Administration with such force it make one question your grasp of the issue. There are already millions of the M1’s in circulation and the loss of the old Korean relics is hardly the place to make a stand. Part of the problem is that we gave the guns to Korea and now they want to sell them back to us…what kind of crap is that? The gun lobby doesn’t want them back for free as it will cripple the M1 market that we have, making them worth a lot less. The Administration is caught between the business interests and the right to carry interests of the gun lobby. Obviously they can’t make a decision to appease both sides of the same lobbyist, so the business side stays quiet on the issue while the gun toter’s scream…Your notice shows you inability to grasp the issue.


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