Update On Civilian Marksmanship Program Getting New Rifles & Pistols

By Philip Van Cleave via Ammoland.com

Virginia Citizens Defense League member Clayton Vieg, who often updates members at the Annandale VCDL membership meetings on Civilian Marksmanship Program ( CMP ) getting new guns, sent me this earlier this month:

I also wanted to follow-up re: your post below regarding Al Steed’s chance meeting with Mr. Orest Michaels re: the CMP program. I too got to meet Mr. Michaels at an event during the Garand Collectors Association (GCA)’s biennial meeting that was held in Fairfax and Chantilly the weekend of Sept. 28th – Oct. 1st 2017.

I second Al’s comments regarding Mr. Michaels.

1. In recent years, the inventory of M1 Garand rifles and other surplus rifles offered for sale through the CMP has come primarily from returns of weapons previously loaned to foreign governments by the U.S. military through military assistance programs. Under such loans, the weapons remain the property of the U.S. Government and are to be returned to U.S. custody once they are no longer needed. This is to be differentiated from outright sales or donations of U.S. weapons to foreign governments. (See #3, below.) The CMP’s charter does not authorize it to act as an importer of surplus weapons, even if they are Garands or other surplus U.S. weapons they are authorized to sell.

2. Earlier this year, CMP announced that the Philippine government would be returning approx. 86,000 M1 Garand rifles to the U.S. Army as they were no longer needed. Under existing law, the U.S. Army is supposed to donate such surplus rifles to the CMP. No word yet as to when the rifles will arrive at CMP or when they will be made available to qualified CMP customers; grading and inspection-related activities alone can take several months before rifles will be offered for sale.

3. As Mr. Steed notes, the latest issue of the GCA magazine has an article about the Garands and similar weapons currently held by the South Korean government. These weapons were the subject of prior attempts to import them to the U.S. via licensed importers (e.g., Century Arms, etc.) and would be sold on the private market without any involvement by the U.S. Army or the CMP. This would have been the case if the weapons were in fact the property of the South Korean government (see #1, above). As is well known, President Obama blocked issuance of import permits for those weapons in the summer of 2013.

4. The same article indicates that the Army may not have pursued further returns of surplus loaned weapons (for eventual transfer to the CMP) during the remainder of President Obama’s term of office as his decision (to block private sales of the Korean Garands) placed the Army in an awkward position regarding making additional weapons available for sale thru the CMP, even though his action (blocking the issuance of import permits) did not apply to the mechanism used to return U.S.-owned weapons to U.S. custody and (eventually) to the CMP (see #1, above).

5. The same article also went on to indicate that the previous ownership status of the Korean Garands (i.e., owned outright by the Koreans) might now be in doubt and that they would be returned to the Army, bypassing the private importers and thus giving them in the end to the CMP. (The article did not elaborate further as to how the ownership situation was being determined.) If so, this would bring many more Garands (and perhaps M1 Carbines and even some M1911 .45 pistols) for disposition thru CMP.

6. Regarding the sale of M1911 pistols thru the CMP, the conference between selected members of the Senate and the House is ongoing to determine the compromise version of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will hopefully address this issue once and for all. (The conference first met on October 25th.) As of this writing, no information has yet been released regarding the NDAA compromise, including the details of the proposed changes to the current legal status of the M1911 sales program. Hopefully something will be announced before the Holidays. The legislation would then have to be approved by both the House and Senate and also signed into law by President Trump.

7. As I have reported at several of VCDL’s meetings in Annandale, both the House and Senate agree to mandate the transfer of the surplus M1911 pistols to CMP. (Current law, signed in 2015, authorizes a limited transfer that is discretionary on the part of the Secretary of the Army but does not REQUIRE such transfer.) The difference in the two versions is that while the House would remove most other restrictions on the sales program (also approved in 2015), the Senate’s version would retain them (e.g., annual limitation on transfers – not-to-exceed 10,000 pistols per year, etc.) and also adds a potential “poison pill” that would require the proceeds (from the sale of the pistols) to be returned to the U.S. Treasury and NOT the CMP. By comparison, the CMP receives the proceeds from the sale of Garands, carbines, etc. and uses them to fund their current and long-term operations. (When I spoke to Orest about this, he didn’t seem to think this was a big problem for the CMP, but I don’t see it being in the CMP’s interest to be nothing more than the dealer for these pistols, since they will incur certain costs in handling and distributing the pistols if they are ever transferred to CMP.)

8. One thing that won’t change – even if the House version is eventually enacted into law (and the pistols are transferred), the CMP will still have to act just like any other FFL dealer when selling the pistols – the main impact being that if you DON’T live in Ohio or Alabama (where CMP has retail stores), pistols will require transfer to a FFL dealer in your State of residence, and any other restrictions regarding pistol sales in your State will also have to be observed. (Whether C&R FFL holders will have any privileges in this area remains to be seen.) This does NOT impact on the existing rifle sales program.

NOTE: On October 12th 2017, as the House was preparing to send the House version of the NDAA to conference with the Senate, a group of Democratic House members (led by Rep. Jim Langevin, D-RI) attempted to obtain a nonbinding motion instructing the House’s conferees to essentially kill the proposed improvements to the M1911 program, in the wake of the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, because of longstanding Democratic objections having to do with selling Government surplus pistols to civilians. The measure failed by a vote of 184 (for) to 237 (against).