Obama Administration Stops Korean M1 Rifle Importation
The Obama administration approved the sale of the American-made rifles last year. But it reversed course and banned the sale in March a decision that went largely unnoticed at the time but that is now sparking opposition from gun rights advocates.
A State Department spokesman said the administration's decision was based on concerns that the guns could fall into the wrong hands.
"The transfer of such a large number of weapons -- 87,310 M1 Garands and 770,160 M1 Carbines -- could potentially be exploited by individuals seeking firearms for illicit purposes," the spokesman told FoxNews.com.
But gun rights advocates point out that possessing M1 rifles is legal in the United States, and anyone who would buy a gun from South Korea would have to go through the standard background check.
"Any guns that retail in the United States, of course, including these, can only be sold to someone who passes the National Instant Check System," said David Kopel, research director at the conservative Independence Institute. "There is no greater risk from these particular guns than there is from any other guns sold in the United States."
Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, called the administration's decision "a de facto gun ban, courtesy of Hillary Clinton's State Department."
According to the ATF Guidebook on Firearms Importation, it would normally be legal to import the M1s because they are more than 50 years old, meaning they qualify as "curios or relics." But because the guns were given to South Korea by the U.S. government, they fall under a special category that requires permission from the State Department before any sale.
The Clinton administration blocked sales of M1s and other antiquated military weapons from the Philippines, Turkey and Pakistan. It also ended the practice of reselling used guns owned by federal agencies, ordering that they be melted down instead.
In contrast, 200,000 M1 rifles from South Korea were allowed to be sold in the U.S. under the Reagan administration in 1987.