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Friday, January 20, 2012

US allows import of 86,000 M1 rifles from Korea

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.”

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. 


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