State Reconsiders Ban on Korean-Owned M-1 Garands

John Garand
                                                                                                Public domain image from National Park Service
John Garand, inventor of the M-1 Garand, in his workshop

The State Department announced Dec. 2 that it will re-consider its stance against allowing M-1 Garands into the United States if South Korea offers another sale.

“The Department will consider a new request from the Republic of Korea (ROK) to transfer its inventory of approximately 87,000 M-1 Garand rifles into the United States for sale on the commercial market,” a spokesperson at the U. S. Department of State said to Guns&Patriots on Dec. 2. “We have not yet received that request.”

“These M-1 Garand rifles date back as far as 1926 and remain a legacy of decades of U.S.-South Korean security partnership. The ROK intends to use the net proceeds of the sale, estimated to be between $2 million – $10 million depending on the condition of the rifles, to upgrade its Homeland Defense Mobilization Reserve components with more modern rifles,” said the spokesperson.

Sen. Jon Tester (D.-Mont.) said the new developments encourage him and he hopes the State Department will move forward quickly.

“For over a year, I have pushed the State Department to allow the importation of M1 Garands, so it’s encouraging to hear that folks at the State Department are open to making that happen.  I look forward to the State Department and the Republic of Korea reaching an agreement soon so American collectors can start adding these historic rifles to their gun collections,” he said.

The Department of State made the decision to reconsider their ban in response to additional information received from ROK authorities, as well as in an effort to compromise between the competing sides for and against the importation, said the State Department spokesperson.

“The Department of State considered several important factors when reviewing the proposal for a limited shipment, including the close and enduring bilateral relationship with the ROK, the historic value of these firearms to collectors in the U.S., and the potential public safety, law enforcement, and cross-border transshipment implications attendant to the importation of these firearms,” said the spokesperson.

As reported previously in Guns&Patriots, two years ago, the Republic of Korea offered to sell over 80,000 American-made Korean War-era M-1 Garands back to the State Department, but in 2010, the State Department refused to allow the historic weapons into the United States, said Erich M. Pratt, communications director for Gun Owners of America.

The State Department’s decision to consider transferring some of the rifles will please Garand enthusiasts and gun-owners in the United States, said Scott A. Duff, former Garand Collector’s Association board-member, author, and publisher of multiple books on the M-1 Garand.

“That would be a wonderful opportunity for collectors and competitive shooters,” he said. “I would love to see that happen.”

Whether the sales happen through commercial markets or the Civilian Marksmanship Program would not matter—just as long as these historic weapons become available to collectors and competitors, he said.