What Pres. Obama Neglected to Mention Before Banning Re-Imports of M1 Garand Rifles

By Max McGuire

M1 Garand Rifles
M1 Garand Rifles

New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com)-  On August 29, 2013, the Obama administration announced that the government would no longer authorize the re-importation of made US weapons.

Following WWII and the Korean War, the United States sold and gifted decommissioned rifles to its allies around the world fighting the spread of Communism.

The majority of these rifles were M1 Garands.

While these rifles remain legal to buy and sell domestically, countries like South Korea are no longer able to resell these rifles to American collectors. Even though these historic firearms are seldom, if ever, implicated in crimes, this new executive order promises a decrease in gun violence. Gun control groups such as Moms Demand Action applauded the measure as a common sense way to reduce gun violence that plagues our inner cities. Second Amendment groups, like the NRA, criticized the administration for “completely [missing] the mark when it comes to stopping violent crime” and putting the last nail in the coffin for the 110 year old Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Since the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama has sought to do everything within his power to limit civilian ownership of firearms. With the Senate unable to break the filibuster and the House of Representatives unlikely to bring gun control legislation out of committee, President Obama has been forced to turn to executive orders. While presidential power is limited without congressional approval, executive oversight over the ATF allows the President some flexibility in changing government policy.

Restricting the re-importation of US WWII rifles fits within this authority.

Many of these antique rifles now prohibited from re-entering the country possess the same semi-automatic actions that gun control advocates have sought to limit through a new Assault Weapons Ban. For this reason, the President believes that their age and collectability is a non-issue. As long as they remain functional, they are perceived as a threat. With mass shootings still fresh in our memories, President Obama hopes that limiting the number of semi-automatic rifles available to the public will reduce the likelihood of another tragic school shooting.

I know what you’re thinking: Curio and Relic (C&R) firearms are rarely, if ever, implicated in crimes and certainly haven’t been used in a school shooting. While it is safe to say that it is unlikely to find a mass shooter with C&R firearm, Obama is right to worry about the M1 Garand specifically. This historic rifle was used in one of the most infamous, high-profile school shootings in the 20th century. However that is no reason to limit the civilian ownership of this weapon.

Ohio Army National Guard arrived at Kent State University
Ohio Army National Guard arrived at Kent State University

On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio Army National Guard arrived at Kent State University to respond to a growing anti-war protest movement on campus. For the last four days, college students had protested the Nixon Administration’s new Cambodian campaign on the university quad. As the protest grew, so did its media exposure. On the fourth day of the protests, the National Guard soldiers — equipped with M1 Garands — fixed their bayonets and drove the student protesters off of the university quad.

At 12:24PM — for reasons still being debated to this day — Sgt. Myron Pryor turned his 1911 service pistol on the students and began firing. The other National Guard soldiers followed suit. The result was a volley of approximately 67 shots into the crowd of unarmed student protesters. When the dust settled, four students were dead and another nine were wounded.

While President Nixon’s investigative commission held both the students and the Guardsmen responsible, it concluded that the “the indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students and the deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.”

When gun control advocates talk about the United States’ history of mass shootings, they seldom include the Kent State Massacre. While they oppose the civilian ownership of “military style” weapons, they are more than willing to support the militarization of domestic police forces. But I must warn against allowing gun control advocates to frame the argument in a way to include antique rifles in the “military style” category. How far back can this logic be stretched? The common response is that a “military style” firearm is any weapon that was deliberately designed to kill people. Under that assumption, nearly every weapon stretching back to when the Chinese discovered gun powder could be labeled a prohibited weapon.

The very muskets that won this country’s revolutionary war could get caught in the gun control dragnet.

The M1 Garands and Carbines now prohibited for re-importation are functional firearms that, if placed into capable hands, are certainly capable of inflicting damage. The M1 Garand’s use in the Kent State Massacre proves that. However it is illogical to take a school shooting, perpetrated by elements of our armed forces, and use it as a rationale to prevent the civilian ownership of these weapons. If anything, the Kent State Massacre legitimizes the civilian ownership of comparable military style firearms. The idea that a National Guard unit could open fire and mow down unarmed protesters is beyond disturbing.

According to Gen. George S. Patton, the M1 Garand was the “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” It helped win the Second World War and remained in active service through the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In peacetime, the M1 Garand provided countries like West Germany, Italy, Japan, Greece, Turkey, and South Korea with a means of defending against the spread of Communism and Marxism on the European and Asian continents. At home, the M1 Garand served as the backbone of the Civilian Marksmanship Program and taught countless Americans the skills required for membership in our nation’s unorganized militia.

Yet today, we are told that reintroducing these service rifles into the market would lead to an increase in crime and gun violence. Gun control advocates neglect to mention examples of when this storied rifle contributed to a crime.

If they did the research however, they would learn that the most deadly domestic shooting involving an M1 Garand was committed not by a deranged citizen, but by elements of our own National Guard. Let that sink in a bit…

About SanityPolitic' Max Mcguire;
Max McGuire is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Political Science at Villanova University. He graduated from Boston College, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Arabic Studies. Follow him on Twitter@SanityPolitics

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