President Barack Obama's newly announced executive order to stop the re-import of military-grade weapons could essentially end the 110-year-old Civilian Marksmanship Program.
Congress created the program as part of the 1903 War Department Appropriations Act to help citizens perfect their marksmanship. Today, those who receive the antiquated weapons must submit to a background check, comply with all federal and state laws, and be a member of a CMP-affiliated shooting club. Still, Obama worries that many of the guns trafficked through the program end up on the streets.
"Without the importation of these rifles, the CMP is likely to become defunct and thus destroying a 110-year tradition of saving military arms and their civilian ownership," The Daily Called reported.
The president's proposal, announced Thursday, would halt the import of military surplus weapons that the United States sells or donates to allies, by private individuals or groups. According to The Associated Press
, 250,000 military-grade guns have come back into the United States over the last eight years, many of them ending up on the streets.
Under the new plan, only government organizations and museums would be allowed to re-import military-style firearms. However, the rule can only be enforced on weapons covered under the National Firearm Act of 1934, like pre-Vietnam machine guns and short-barreled shotguns, which make up most of the CMP's artillery.
Gun control opponents criticized the proposed policy, saying it's pointless because the guns in question — mostly antiquated, World War II-era weapons — are rarely used to carry out crimes.
"Banning these rifles because of their use in quote-unquote crimes is like banning Model Ts because so many of them are being used as getaway cars in bank robberies," Ed Woods, a 47-year-old from the Chico area of northern California, told the AP.
Obama's policy would be carried out as an executive order, which does not need Congress' approval.
Another order revealed Thursday was the closure of a loophole that currently allows felons or others to dodge background checks by registering the sale of a weapon to a corporation, beneficiary, or trust. A new rule would require those entities to undergo fingerprint-based background checks.
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