U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) made headlines recently when he introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1735). The amendment allows for the transfer of surplus 1911A1 handguns to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) for sale to the general public.
Last week, in response, the U.S. army released a white paper voicing “concern” over this amendment and claimed that there would be “potential negative impacts on public safety from the large amount of semi-automatic and concealable pistols that will be released for public purchase.” These concerns included the traceability of the firearms after sale, and the applicability of the Gun Control Act of 1968.
Public safety concerns revolved around the fact that there is “no statutory requirement or record keeping obligation for CMP,” which could make it difficult for federal agencies to track some firearm transfers, once they are completed.
As John Richardson of No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money notes, though, the Civilian Marksmanship Program has stringent standards that must be met by an individual before they can acquire a firearm from this program. These firearms are not released to any person who inquires – they must be non-prohibited persons and meet CMP’s eligibility requirements.
It is worth noting that the NRA-ILA pointed out recently that “if any handgun would pass muster with the White House and likeminded anti-gunners, seemingly the M1911 would be it. After all, it was issued with a single-stack, seven-round magazine, a capacity even New York was willing to tolerate with the original version of the execrable SAFE Act.” Yet despite this fact, the Obama administration continues to oppose this legislation.
Additionally, the Army and DOJ’s apparent concerns over the applicability of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) were never communicated, beyond observing that this amendment would extend the GCA exemption for CMP to include handgun transfers in the future.
While some might understand the Army raising some concern over a large transfer of firearms, the Civilian Marksmanship Program has a long history and a stellar reputation in conducting sales of military surplus supplies. There is no substantive reason why the Department of Justice and U.S. Army would object to CMP’s continued diligence in this area in future.
Rep. Mike Rogers noted after the amendment was passed that “my proposal is a common-sense approach to eliminating an unnecessary cost to the Federal government while allowing the very capable CMP to handle the sale of these vintage firearms that otherwise would just sit in storage. This amendment is a win – win for the taxpayer.”
There is no reason for Congress to pay any heed to these bogus concerns on the part of the Obama Administration. This amendment is a sensible solution that not only alleviates a burden on the government, but allows law-abiding gun owners to have access to a market of handguns for their personal collections and recreational use.
Evan Gillespie is a member of Firearms Policy Coalition’s News and Take Action teams.