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Begich Questions State Department on Gun Ban

Joins senators questioning ban on sales of collectible rifle
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is urging the State Department to reverse a ban on the sale and reimportation of a vintage rifle that helped American troops in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Begich is one of 16 senators who sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking for an explanation and a reversal on a decision to ban the sale of surplus M1 Garand and M1 Carbine rifles from South Korea to qualified buyers in the United States.

"This decision amounts to no more than a backdoor gun ban that lacks any basis or justification under current Federal law and policy," the letter states. "This decision violates law-abiding citizens' constitutional right, protected under the Second Amendment, to purchase these firearms for legitimate purposes such as target shooting, hunting, collecting, and self-protection.

According to the senators, the Obama Administration approved the sale of the American-made rifles last year, but the State Department chose to reverse the decision because the firearms "could potentially be exploited by individuals seeking firearms for illicit purposes." The letter says the M1 today is lawfully used by American citizens for recreational activities and is also a highly collectible firearm for those interested in American history. It points out anyone wishing to purchase one of the firearms would be subject to the National Instant Check System and the sale of one of the historic rifles poses no greater risk than the sale of any other firearm legally sold in the United States.

"To this end, we request an explanation of your reasons for blocking the importation and sale of American-made rifles from South Korea, and we strongly urge you to reverse your decision in the interest of protecting Americans' Second Amendment rights," the letter concludes.

"Alaskans know better than anyone the value and importance of protecting the Second Amendment," Begich said after signing the letter. "The State Department's rationale that these firearms could potentially be exploited is weak, and State's decision will prevent collectors from getting their hands on a weapon prized for its historical value as much as for its accuracy."

Other senators signing the letter include Sen. John Cornyn (TX), Sen. Mike Enzi (WY),  Sen. Tom Coburn (OK), Sen. Jon Tester (MT), Sen. Richard Burr (NC), Sen. James Inhofe (OK), Sen. Judd Gregg (NH), Sen. Mike Crapo(ID), Sen. John Barrasso (WY), Sen. John Thune (SD), Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), Sen. Bob Bennett (UT), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH), and Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA).

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