News We're Watching

Iowa remains one signature away from changing from a "may" issue to a "must" issue state. The single signature, however, isn't a solid lock at this writing. The Iowa House and Senate have passed their respective bills that reduce a sheriff's ability to deny gun permits. If Governor Chet Culver signs the bill within thirty days of its passage through both chambers of the statehouse, there will be several changes. Permits, for example, would be issued for five years, not one, and sheriffs could only deny a handgun permit for pre-defined reasons, including drug or alcohol addiction or prior criminal history. If/when Culver signs the measure, it will standardize training requirements, the appeals process and a statewide recognition of permits.

Butler Joins Battenfield

Battenfeld Technologies announces the addition of Brandon Butler to their staff as Marketing Manager. Butler was formerly with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as a public affairs specialist, and staff writer for Outdoor Indiana magazine.


Brass Issue Not Resolved

When I last reported on the ongoing question of the release of once-fired military brass to the civilian marketplace, it seemed the issue might finally be resolving itself. Any passing on of that impression seems to have been either premature or unintentionally erroneous.

Seems the efforts of base commanders to skate around a Congressional order not to try and sell the brass outside the prescribed process- sales via auction via Government Liquidations, an outside auction house for government properties- has been an ongoing process.

As a result, Montana's United States Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester have sent a very strongly-worded letter to the Department of Defense insisting on answers to some very pointed questions on the matter of military brass destruction.

The issue came to light after sales solicitations from ATK (NYSE: ATK) were disclosed by Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) head Gary Marbut. In the ATK sales pieces, base commanders were told how they could sell their once-fired brass to ATK for demilling rather than sending it through the prescribed governmental process. That sales process would result in the funds going directly into each base's funds instead of the treasury.

Despite the fact that most military commanders would probably be better stewards of those funds than Washington, the process is basically a no-no. When given a clear directive to follow, it's not only unusual for military officials to fail to comply, it's the equivalent of issuing a throw-down at Washington.

The most unsettling part of the report, however, was a series of quotes taken from the ATK program literature being directed to the commanders.

In those materials, several reasons for participating in a direct sale rather than a government liquidation were quoted. None portrayed potential civilian purchasers, reloaders or shooters in a very positive light.

Those included:
"We cannot allow this reloaded ammunition to fall into the hands of militias."

"Keeps Military Grade Brass from being re-loaded by unauthorized users."

"To PREVENT anyone from using your scrap ammunition components for non-military purposes." (Emphasis in the original)

"Assurability for the [military] installation, that no one can use this cartridge against law enforcement or our military personnel, by reloading the case."

Get the idea?

When I contacted ATK President and CEO Mark DeYoung, I received an official response that described the presentations as "dated", promising they would be "immediately withdrawn."

"ATK," it concluded, "fully supports the provision passed by Congress last year to ensure that demilitarized spent brass casings remain available for civilian use."

Seems, however, that not everyone might have gotten the word. We received word from reliable sources telling us that the same ATK person who had issued the now-withdrawn earlier documents had notified some of the bases participating in the demilled brass project "we are doing the same thing still, same goal, just different words..."

Even if the whole affair was a misunderstanding, there's a clear directive issued from Congress to the military that no Congress-appropriated funds may be used to destroy brass. Here's the excerpt from the 2009 Department of Defense appropriation by Congress:

"None of the funds available to the Department of Defense may be used to demilitarize or dispose of M-1 Carbines, M-1 Garand rifles, M-14 rifles, .22 caliber rifles, .30 caliber rifles, or M-1911 pistols, or to demilitarize or destroy small arms ammunition or ammunition components that are not otherwise prohibited from commercial sale under Federal law, unless the small arms ammunition or ammunition components are certified by the Secretary of the Army or designee as unserviceable or unsafe for further use."

Even if it's a case of everyone not being informed, it's not sitting well with the same Montana senators who went to bat for civilians when the whole ammo demilling issue first surfaced.

The pair has sent a letter to Defense Logistics Agency head Vice Admiral Alan K. Thompson demanding answers, and setting an April 15 deadline for receipt of those answers.

After reminding Vice Admiral Thompson the domestic market for ammunition was "highly sensitive to shortages of spent cartridge cases" they expressed their concern that "certain installation contracts with private entities for the sale of once-fired small arms cartridge cases under the QRP (Qualified Recycling Program) might not be in compliance with this law."

The pair then gave Thompson until April 15 to provide:

-the number and location of military installations that have contracted with private sources for the sale of their once-fired small arms cartridge cases under the QRP.,

-An assessment of whether these contracts are in compliance with Section 8019 or PL 1111-1111

-An assessment of whether once-fired small arms cartridge cases sold to private entities under the QRP earn as much revenue as otherwise would be earned if the brass were put up for public bid through government liquidations.

-The steps our agency is taking to ensure that all interested buyers have the opportunity to purchased once-fired small arms cartridge cases and an assessment of whether your agency is taking every step to assure the maximum availablility of once-fired small arms cartridge cases to those who repurchase them for resale and reuse via the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO) system."

In other words, the matter of civilian access to once-fired military brass remains an open issue - at least until April 15. At that point, the situation may either stabilize or continue to spiral.

We'll keep you posted.

--Jim Shepherd

Apr 9
Mid-Carolina Rifle Club, Columbia, South Carolina
Apr 9
Mid-Carolina Rifle Club, Columbia, SC
Apr 10
Warsaw Rifle & Pistol Club Warsaw, IN
Apr 16
South River Gun Club, Covington, GA
Apr 16
PSC Range - Houston, Texas
Apr 17
Sun Mountain Gun Club, Coarsegold, CA
Apr 25
Emmett, Idaho
Apr 22-25
Palmyra Sportsmans Club, Sportsman Rd and Plum St, Palmyra, Pennsylvania
Apr 28-May 1
PASA Park, Barry, Illinois

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