Department of Defense reverses decision to destroy all once-fired military brass

By Jim Shepherd

At about five-thirty Tuesday evening, the lengthy feature that was to have gone in Wednesday's editions of both the Outdoor and Shooting Wires was rendered unnecessary. Normally, that's not a reason for celebration. But this was no ordinary occurrence.

After having spoken with Larry Haynie of Georgia Arms regarding the Department of Defense decision to require all once-fired military brass be shredded rather than sold for repurposing to consumers and domestic agencies, it seemed the set-piece battle over gun ownership was underway.

This morning, there is no discomfort whatsoever to report that the Department of Defense has been introduced to the idea that unilateral decisions of this magnitude don't come without consequences.

The voice of reason came from the United States Senators from Montana.

More accurately, the voices of reason came from the Democratic senators from Montana.

Known for pushing ethics reform, Senator Jon Tester apparently isn't afraid to push for gun owners, too.

At approximately 4:15 p.m. Eastern yesterday afternoon, Senators Tester and Baucus of Montana faxed a cosigned letter to the Department of Defense asking DOD to reverse their new policy requiring "mutilation" of fired military cartridge brass.

At approximately 5:30 p.m. Eastern our sources tell us, Senator Tester's office received a fax back from the Defense Department saying the brass destruction policy IS reversed.

Already, websites that coordinate the sale of DOD surplus are beginning to remove the "Mutilation" requirement from their listings. This only hours after they began adding the mutilation stipulation.

In short, it seems a fax from the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and another Senator had considerable powers of persuasion.

That translates to a win for the law-abiding gun owners of the United States.

It is only appropriate that we recognize the party affiliation of both these men, because their willingness to go to bat for the ammunition industry demonstrates that, despite all the indications to the contrary, Washington is not irrevocably divided down party lines.

When it comes to firearms and Second Amendment rights, it seems party affiliations can still be disregarded.

That is reassuring.

Today, firearms owners owe these two gentlemen a vote of thanks.

They didn't wait for an opinion poll, they acted.

Still, this is still no time to relax when it comes to firearms.

DOD has seen the light, but Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department seem determined to try and convince America the problems with Mexican drug smuggling and the related violence is due to the ease with which American arms are being purchased here and smuggled into Mexico.

Fortunately, not everyone is sitting still for that argument.

Last week, Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action warned a House subcommittee not to make American gun owners "scapegoats" for the Mexican crisis.

"According to some," Cox said in a prepared statement, "the violence in Mexico is not the fault of the Mexican drug cartels or their American customers, nor is it the fault of decades of Mexican government corruption. In their views, the fault lies with American gun owners."

That, Cox continued, "is an outrageous assertion."

But that assertion continues.

And last week, three Democratic lawmakers were quick to notify Attorney General Holder of their "vigorous opposition" to any new gun restrictions the Obama administration might be considering.

The three lawmakers were Alaska Senator Mark Begich and - you guessed it - Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester.

Despite some ugly times that will likely lie ahead, it seems it's not too-late to hope for some non-partisan common sense to be injected into Congress.

OK, maybe that's optimistic, but we'll take this win - and all the support we can muster.

Thank you, Senators Tester and Baucus, for your unhesitating support.

Oh yeah - the following note is up on the Georgia Arms website:

"Dear Loyal Customers,

Thanks to your voice, DOD has rescinded the order to mutilate all spent cases as of 4:30 pm on 3/17/09. We appreciate the time and effort that you expended, together we all made a difference. We will be posting the email we received from DOD as well as any additional information within the next 12-16 hours. Thanks so much and lets get to work!!!"

Republished from The Outdoor Wire.


STATEMENT FROM NRA CHIEF LOBBYIST CHRIS W. COX
Military Surplus Cartridge Case Issue Resolved

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yesterday morning, the Department of Defense informed NRA-ILA that fired military small arms cartridge cases are once again eligible for sale, following a temporary suspension in such sales instituted last week. NRA-ILA began discussions with DoD shortly after the suspension took effect, and we were assured from the beginning that efforts were underway to resolve the issue favorably.

Yesterday afternoon, DoD additionally confirmed the lifting of the suspension to pro-Second Amendment United States Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who sent the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) a joint letter vigorously opposing the suspension, on the grounds that it had "an impact on small businesses who sell reloaded ammunition utilizing these fired casings, and upon individual gun owners who purchase spent military brass at considerable cost savings for their personal use."

Everyone who would have been impacted by the suspension, had it become permanent, owes thanks to Senator Baucus for his leadereship on this issue, as well as to Sen. Tester and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), who also weighed in strongly on behalf of gun owners and the suppliers from whom they obtain ammunition reloaded with surplus military brass.

In announcing that the suspension has been lifted, DoD also made clear that no cartridge cases that, in the absence of the suspension, would have been sold for reloading purposes were destroyed while the suspension was in effect. Such cases were instead protected by DoD during the suspension, and are again eligible for sale. With ammunition currently in short supply, that was welcome news, to be sure.

DLA also put to rest various theories and rumors that were circulated on the internet, concerning the reason for the suspension. As DLA explained to Senators Baucus and Tester, and to NRA-ILA, DoD officials responsible for the demilitarization of military property temporarily halted the release of the cartridge cases last week, pending review of a policy change issued last year by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which, in the interest of national security, halted the sale of items within a broad category of government property including, but not limited to, surplus small arms cartridge cases.

To make cartridge cases eligible for sale once again, DoD demilitarization officials verified that the cases could be appropriately placed in a category of government property allowing for their release for use within the United States, and then executed the recategorization. Whereas during the brief suspension, fired cartridge cases would have been releaseable only if the purchaser crushed or smelted them, now the cases may be sold as before, intact and reloadable.

DoD also assured NRA-ILA that companies previously authorized to purchase cartridge cases under Trade Security Controls need no further vetting at this time, and are eligible to resume purchasing cases under the policy adopted yesterday.

In sum, a problem that could have had serious repercussions for the remanufactured ammunition industry and the countless gun owners who support it, appears to have been resolved quickly.

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