President Obama is afraid of the M1 Garand, the U.S. rifle that helped win World War II, defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Administration officials earlier this year moved to block the government of South Korea from selling vintage U.S.-made M1 Garands and M1 carbines to eager stateside collectors.
The State Department confirmed to The Washington Times that it was considering “alternative options” to deal with the classic rifles. During the Clinton administration, such code words meant melting them down. The government in Seoul was told that this step was being taken for the protection of Americans. “The U.S. insisted that imports of the aging rifles could cause problems such as firearm accidents,” a South Korean Ministry of National Defense official told the Korea Times last month.
It’s hard to see how these M1 rifles could be considered risky when they already are offered for sale by the U.S. government through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. In fact, the federally sponsored CMP puts on summer camps that teach boys and girls how to handle the Garand properly and safely. In the past seven years, there hasn’t been a single accident. Many of the participants go on to serve their country or take part in shooting sports at the collegiate and Olympic level.
It’s more likely that the administration is seeking to win the admiration of gun grabbers. Mr. Obama has a history of supporting gun control as a state senator and U.S. senator, but he’s been limited in his ability to implement this anti-gun agenda as president. Democratic members of Congress remember the federal assault-weapons ban as one of the lead issues motivating voters to turn Congress over to Republicans in 1994. Senators facing tight races in pro-gun states don’t want to see a repeat of that midterm landslide. Therefore, the best way for Mr. Obama to appease the gun-grabbing fringe is to take actions that won’t bring too much attention to what he’s doing. As long as the destruction of these rifles stays under the public radar screen, he will have achieved his goal.
“In my opinion, the M1 Rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised,” Gen. George S. Patton famously said. Future generations, young and old, should have a chance to experience this piece of history at an affordable price. Congress should take action to reverse the State Department and allow these storied weapons to return home.