The Outdoor Wires has learned the United States Department of State is reconsidering last year's decision to block the importation of World War II rifles from the Republic of Korea.
Citing concerns over the proposed demilitarization and disposal of 850,000 surplus M1 Garand rifles and M1 Carbines, the State Department had rescinded authorization for the transfer, saying the decision was based on the "collective Administration's effort to analyze the impact of this potential transfer."
The "collective effort" included an ATF protest supposedly based on the "ease with which an M1 Carbine, in particular, can be converted into a fully automatic rifle."
The other bugaboo was "significant law enforcement concerns associated with the movement of small arms across U.S. borders, especially the Southwest Border."
Seems when a political position is taken, it is defended to the death. Some members of the current administration have doggedly maintained the fallacious position that unscrupulous U.S. firearms dealers were responsible for supplying military weapons directly to Mexican drug cartels. Because of that position, the importation of M1 Carbines from South Korea simply couldn't be permitted.
Enter Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association.
Marbut's the man given credit (or blame, depending on who's talking) for pushing through the Montana-Made Gun Bill. Under this legislation, firearms made in Montana, sold only in Montana and used only in Montana were exempt from federal regulation because they were never subject to interstate movement.
That bill became the basis for what came to be known as Firearms Freedom Acts, state challenges to the federal government's ability to impose gun restrictions on that state's citizens.
Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota passed similar legislation, and it remains under consideration in a number of other states as well. It's also the subject of federal litigation and appeals - far from a settled issue.
Marbut brought the surplus rifles decision to the attention of Montana Senator Max Baucus.
Baucus questioned the State Department Decision, and it appears kicked off the re-examination of the denial of import permission.
Earlier this week, Baucus received word from the State Department that efforts "continue to explore options with the Republic of Korea for the disposition of these firearms."
Options include authorization to transfer a smaller lot - 100,000- of the M1 Garands and Carbines, with those smaller batches to be transferred "subject to genuine collector demand" over a number of years.
That proposal, however, is still subject to "more, specific information" being provided by the Republic Korea.
But it's progress on preserving at least a significant chunk of World War II historical arms.
The Department of State promises to keep Senator Baucus updated on developments.
We promise to do the same for you.