One way to look at a 60-year-old, battle-worn M1 U.S. service rifle is as a cherished historical relic unfit for any duty more rigorous than color guard. Another way is as a military-grade firearm likely to be snatched up by street toughs and used for common crime. Over the past six years, the Obama administration has seen the gun both ways, leading to a saga that has incensed legislators and gun collectors alike.
Helpfully for the executive branch, Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming filed the “Collectible Firearms Protection Act.” While Lummis’s bill sounds wide-ranging, it actually targets a strange and singular quandary that’s given the State Department fits since 2009: What to do with almost a million vintage, American-made M1 Garand and Carbine rifles now moldering in the arsenals of their custodian, South Korea.
“Legislation shouldn’t even be needed for U.S. citizens to purchase perfectly legal and regulated firearms, especially in this case, with storied, American-made rifles that are pieces of U.S. military history,” Rep. Lummis said in a statement. In fact, legislation wouldn’t be necessary if President Obama were okay with the purchase, which in this case, his administration was in favor of. Until it wasn’t.