Firearms will be sold to Korean War veterans
By Lee Tae-hoon
Washington has agreed to allow the importation of M1 Garand rifles from Seoul, reversing its earlier decision to ban the shipping of the weapon used by South Korean and U.S. soldiers during the 1950-53 Korean War, a senior defense official said Wednesday.
“The U.S. government approved the imports of some 86,000 of the rifles,” said Lee Sun-chul, deputy defense minister for force and resources management.
“The historic firearms are expected to be sold to American Korean War veterans and their families in time for the 62nd anniversary of the Korean War, which falls on June 25 this year.”
Kim Mi-sung, an official of the force and resources management office, said the defense ministry received an approval letter from the United States on Sept. 2 last year that stated Washington agreed to allow the importation of the M1s.
She noted that the U.S. government, however, rejected Seoul’s proposal to export some 600,000 M1 Carbines, which were also used in the Korean War, as they come with a magazine that can carry multiple rounds unlike the Garands.
“We plan to announce a bid later this month or in February for the selection of agencies to sell the M1 rifles to Americans,” Kim said. “The U.S. has been reviewing legal procedures for the approval of a third party transfer.”
The official said Korea plans to purchase locally developed K2 rifles with the money raised by selling the M1s.
The Obama administration blocked the purchase of 87,310 M1 Garands and 770,160 M1 Carbines in 2010, saying the American-made antique rifles could “potentially be exploited by individuals seeking firearms for illicit purposes.”
The move, however, triggered strong criticism among gun collectors, who said the U.S. government was being excessively concerned about possible firearm incidents involving the aging semiautomatic rifles.
In February last year, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Cynthia Lummis proposed bills for an amendment of the Arms Export Control Act to guarantee that U.S.-made military firearms classified as “curios and relics” will not be blocked from importation.
The legislations allow firearms more than 50 years old, considered antiques or relics and lawfully possessed by a foreign government, to be imported into the United States through properly licensed groups and sold without written permission from the U.S. State or Defense Departments.
A senior defense ministry official, however, raised the possibility that the U.S. government may cancel the plan to allow the purchase the M1s, saying Seoul has yet to finalize negotiations with Washington.
``We have yet to receive confirmation from the United States over our proposal,” he said. “The U.S. government may change its position at the last minute due to political considerations.”
M1s were made first in 1926 and used during World War II and the Vietnam War. The carbines were first produced in 1941 and used during the 1950-1953 Korean War.
They currently sell for around $220, according to another defense ministry official.
Black Blade: Now for the M1 carbines. They all should be imported.