The Collectible Firearms Protection Act and Why it Matters

American WWII soldier with an M1 Garand rifle

For the third year in a row, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) has introduced the Collectible Firearms Protection Act challenging a 57-year old ban on the re-importation of U.S.-made military rifles sold, transferred or given to foreign countries. In question are 86,000 American-made M1 Garand and 600,000 M1 Carbine rifles we sold to South Korea after World War II. With some exceptions, these rifles are essentially illegal due to a 1958 law called the Mutual Security Act. But most importantly, President Obama’s executive action in 2013 banning the re-importation oversteps his bounds of power.

In some ways, we can blame ourselves. In the mid to late 1950s, Americans were buying cheap imported military rifles and modifying them to make good hunting guns. To protect companies such as Colt, Remington, Ruger and the other American firearms manufacturers, Congress passed H.R. 12181, the Mutual Security Act to protect “domestic small arms manufacturers in the domestic market”—which seems fair enough. However, this Act banned the re-importation of American-made rifles unless the gun was so extremely modified it was unrecognizable to its original state or it was sold to military personnel. The law went unchanged and unchallenged until 1976 when the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) was passed. The AECA allowed the President to decide when importation of these rifles was appropriate—giving the military rifles of our past, a “pardon” if you will. The AECA gave exception to rifles qualifying as a “curios or relic” as defined by the ATF and if the original country still owned the rifles.

American WWII soldier with an M1 Garand rifle
“The greatest battle implement ever devised.” The .30 caliber M1 Garand.
Previous administrations have used the AECA, albeit quietly, to further their pro-gun or anti-gun agendas. For example, in 1987, President Reagan approved the sale of 200,000 M1s from South Korea, but President Clinton refused the re-importation of M1s from the Philippines, Turkey and Pakistan. And now, although the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine are very legal to own in the United States, President Obama is exerting his power through executive action, but not after flip-flopping over the deal.

Sale ends July 28, 2019

Sale ends July 28, 2019

The struggle to get our guns back started six years ago when South Korea purposed the sale back of the nearly 700,000 rifles in order to raise money for its military. Obama approved the re-importation in 2009. In 2010, he went back on his decision. Then in 2012, he again switched his stance, saying the Garands could be re-imported, but not the M1 Carbines, because the M1 Carbines “come with a magazine that can carry multiple rounds.” His executive order in 2013 made the decision final. He banned the re-importation of both rifles because they could “potentially be exploited by individuals seeking firearms for illicit purposes…” Yeah, because so many criminals pull out a 37-inch, 6-pound beast when robbing someone. Still, the Obama Administration believes that “this new policy will help keep military-grade firearms off our streets.” His intent, as he said is to “…ban almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities.” Never mind the exceptions that the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine meet the ATF’s description of a “curios or relics” and that the intended purpose to import the rifles is to sale to Korean War vets, their families and to the Civilian Marksmanship Program—all exceptions under the 1976 AECA law.

Rep. Lummis’ Collectible Firearms Protection Act aims to change the AECA. Introduced on June 2, 2015, Rep. Lummis’ latest version of the bill, H.R. 2611, states:

To amend the Arms Export Control Act to provide that certain firearms listed as curios or relics may be imported into the United States by a licensed importer without obtaining authorization from the Department of State or the Department of Defense, and for other purposes.

Rep. Lummis said, “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.” Read the full Collectible Firearms Protection Act here. Though hundreds of thousands sounds like a lot, eventually these military surplus and highly collectible rifles will become piles of scratched up wood and metal if laws like Lummis’ do not get passed. (Previous historical firearms barred from reentering the U.S. have been melted down.) The NRA encourages all firearm owners and 2A supporters to write their representatives in support of the 2015 Collectible Firearms Protection Act. Click here to find out what you can do.

C’mon guys! This time, this year—let’s get this thing passed! Melissa Burgess wrote a detailed study of the current ban in “Illegal Upon Exit: Examining AECA’s Ban on the Reimportation of American Military Firearms” published in the National Security Law Journal. Much of this article’s historical information was pulled from this paper and I highly recommend giving it a read to fully understand the scope of President Obama’s ban and the importance of Rep. Lummis’ bill.

Why do you think the Collectible Firearms Protection Act has failed to pass? Share your thoughts on this these re-importation laws, the M1 Garand and the M1 Carbine in the comment section.


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Comments (60)

  1. I own 2- m1Garands and a ’03 Springfield. My father,whom was in the 1st and 4th Marine div. gave them to me. I had one refinished by James River Armory and it’s beautiful. So beautiful, that I won’t fire it.
    Every time I take them out for oiling, I think of him Island hopping in the Pacific and later Korea. I never thought much of it when he gave them to me, but I know now what he was doing. I have a piece of history and a piece of him that someday , I, will give to my kids or grandkids. When I went to get a M1Carbine, I was denied because I live in NJ. What a shame and embarrassment.

    1. I agree, it was a shame and a crime.

      Move out of NJ. It is a Nazi Liberal state almost as bad as Maryland, and Christie is an embarrassment. How anyone could ever vote for him as a Conservative president is beyond me. I grew up in MY, but i got out with i was 18 and never looked back.

    2. All I could tell you. He is a RINO just like Boehner, McConnell, Perry, McCain, Orrin Hatch, they’re not true republicans. Those are true American patriots who follow the US Constitution, Ted Cruz, Trey Gowdy, Mike Lee, Louis Gohmert, Ron Paul, Scott Walker.

    3. Pierre77L

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I used to live in Utah a lot of years ago, and we all thought Hatch was someone we could trust. What a disappointment. The same goes for McCain.

      What happens to these people? Why does it become so easy for them to sell out?

      I would like to see Cruz in the WH.

    4. @ Pierre77L

      Boehner, McConnell, Perry, McCain and Hatch are “Openly Greedy. While Cruz, Gowdy, Lee, Gohmert, Paul, Ryan and Walker are “Quisling’s”, They pretend to be for the CAUSE. Unfortunately, the “Cause” are ALL FOR THEMSELVES.

    5. Cruz? Walker – they are just as much RINO’s as the others. don’t kid yourself. Ron Raul is the ONLY one that isn’t!

    6. @ Mikial.

      Ohhh, I don’t know. Maryland has ~988-FFL Dealers in the state and one of their Shooting Ranges is within 20-miles of where I Live.

      Cali B&M…

  2. I do not know how many nations US sent both Garands and Carbines to; but it must be at least every South American, half of Asia’s and Africa’s as well.
    The Garand was a different matter and only as last resort did Egypt Greece and Italy accept them And the magazine modified and 308 versions done by them greatly improved those clunkers.
    History is great but that was then and today either weapon can still accomplish what they were designed for but are far outclassed by even inexpensive hunting weapons.
    I have been lucky enough to fire almost every military weapon ever used by US including grease guns and crew weapons of WWI, HAVE NOT FIRED full auto Johnson only a revamped semi, and actually had a WwI listol 38 SW handed to me to use in tunnels; no thanksUS must of sent millions to Vietnam, their military lost 2 million men, so much for them not fighting.
    I remember seeing regional civilian militias standing proud as the held Garands, Thompsons Springfields and even BAR’s that were damn near as long as a Yard was tall, a bag across their shoulder and from 4 to 10 mags , tough suckers.
    Somewhere in SW US federal lands there lay buried millions of .ilitary rounds and even Gaarands and Carbines and old Springfields and Krags all buried after Korean war.
    Now there would be a treasure to dig up.
    I give up trying to explain political reasons of how gov decided to ban import, better to let others sell crying rags during crying jags, and way too late to fuss over it.
    over it.

  3. I purchased an M1 Garand several years ago from CMP just to make sure I had a piece of history. I paid half of what they want in shops and shows. I have always wanted to get a carbine to compliment the Garand but they were all out. Would love to get a carbine AND another Garand for my collection. It would be a great thing to get this program realized.

  4. I own 2 M-1 Garands and would like to own, at least, 1 carbine. Price for an authentic carbine prohibits this for me at this time. With the imports of, just, the S. Korean inventory, the prices would come down to a reasonable figure. Collectors and dealers with quality items wouldn’t be affected that much.
    I understand the S. Korean Carbines are, for the biggest part, worn out. Places like the CMP and, probably, other re-builders would be awarded the import rights and they would put together serviceable rifles. for sale at good prices.

  5. Just in case anyone is interested, there’s a company called Sandy Gun Works. That has a Johnson M-1 Carbine in 5.7x28mm called the 5.7 Johnson Spitefire. And a 7.92x33mm Kurz in the work’s, with a claimed maximum range of about 600-meters with a 20-round magazine. Something worth considering…

  6. I’ve seen a couple great shows highlighting these rifles from our history, and believe every American should be able to have the right to purchase these historically significant pieces. It just boggles me that OUR weapons, built HERE, Paid For HERE by taxpayers, and perfectly legal to own here, are being prevented from being bought back from one of our Allies, who could certainly use the funds to help maintain their own freedoms. It’s not like we’re talking about buying them from an enemy, here, or even about foreign made weapons (an entirely different topic). We’re talking about pieces of OUR history, that any American otherwise legally permitted to own one should have access to, without having to pay ridiculous sums because there aren’t as many available as are wanted. Add a few hundred thousand more to the mix, and suddenly they should be affordable for many of us. It’s not like I couldn’t go to my local WalMart and buy a rifle with higher capacity, or accuracy, or damage potential. The whole point is that these pieces of our history are being offered back to us from the country we sent them to, and the offer should be accepted wholeheartedly.

  7. The reason they will never pass is large collectors won’t allow the market to be flooded so the price of their rifles do not drop. Ask yourself who losses money on the deal and you will usually find your reason. Albeit any anti gun sentiment is driven by fear of military grade weapons and ignorance i.e. We have many calibers more powerful than these and allow further shots but they are fine in the eyes of anti gun idiots because they are not educated in firearm capability. They just follow the fear factor.

    1. I am a Vietnam War Era Veteran, we need to bring these American Military Rifles (M1 Garand and M1 Carbine) home, they are Historical Icons part of American History, made in America, symbols of American Freedom and what our Second Amendment stands for, don’t allow them to perish abroad. Write to your U.S. Representative, (I have), to support the “Collectible Firearms Protection Act” and give The CMP sole Import Rights and all proceeds. I would to own a couple at a reasonable price

    2. Collectors will not be impacted at all…in fact, it is to their benefit. Only a VERY small percentage of rifles will be in a collector’s condition. The greater majority of firearms will be found to be in decent, operable conditions and in varying levels of wear. Not only will there be more collectors generated but with their greater number searching for a limited number of collectible rifles, the value only increases!

  8. My question is this: Why would the US sell top quality rifles to a country which one day might use them to harm/kill US soldiers? Let the American public have the opportunity to own one of these rifles.

    1. South Korea is one of our closest allies, and have been for aver 60 years.

      Why would they ever harm or kill U.S. soldiers?

    2. I think you may be confusing South Korea, which has been a firm ally for decades, with the terrorists in Libya and Syria that Obama is arming.

    3. Iran/Persia and the Soviet Union were our allies for decades too, just saying… Japan and Germany were our enemies for years too, now they are some of our best allies.

    4. It’s N. Korea that is the enemy S. Korea named their Marines after our USMC, am I not correct?

  9. I’m 62 years Old and can’t believe U people have not caught on to money that backs Politicians yet !. Without Hunter’s, Hunting Equipment Mfgs, Civilian Ammo Companies, Civilian Gun Mfgrs. that have Military contracts also……..our Economy would drop like a ROCK !!!! Outdoor Sportsmen & Women ( Hunters & Fishermen ) provide Hundreds of Millions of Dollars to the U S Economy each year………The Congress & Senate….State Gov’t’s aren’t STUPID…….They WILL NOT LOOSE THAT $$$$$ !!!!Even if the current Administration enacted these Laws…….The new Administration would come right in behind them and use Executive Power to Abolish them, PLUS they are gonna replace the New Attorney General anyway……..she was Strictly an NAACP appeasement !

    1. Darn good reply. Have you seen what they are charging for the ones we do have . That’s a crime in of it’s self.

  10. That woman who formerly ran the state department put the halt to any importation of weapons loaned/leased during the Korean War. THAT is a small show of what is in store for firearms owners and collectors if she is elected as POTUS. I have one M-1 Garand and own two M-1 Carbines. They are awesome and are no more a threat to the streets that anything else available from a local gun store.

    1. My 1943 Garand has a place of honor in my collection. More people should have an opportunity to own one of these iconic weapons.

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