A Vermont firearms dealer says the Obama administration is responsible for him having to lay off 41 of its workers in a “last minute” move that has even angered some of the state’s liberal politicians.
Century International Arms had a $30 million contract in place to import World War II era M1 Garand Rifles from the South Korean government. The U.S. State Department had given preliminary approval to the deal, and the State, Justice and Defense departments had cleared the transaction.
But an executive action announced last year by President Obama ultimately blocked the plan, according to the gun seller, despite pleas from Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Peter Shumlin, both Democrats.
“All the normal approvals were in place to obtain the import permits for this sale from ATF,” the company wrote in a statement on Thursday.
It said it had invested “considerable funds” to line up approval and financing for the bid, which it had won from the South Korean government.
But the deal was nixed, the company said, because “the White House intervened at the last minute and blocked this importation.”
The administration’s rationale was what it called “two common-sense executive actions” announced last year which were designed “to keep the most dangerous firearms out of the wrong hands.”
One of the actions put a ban on private entities re-importing military surplus firearms. Museums are one of the only exceptions to the ruling.
In a letter sent last month, Leahy and Shumlin pleaded with Obama to allow the transaction to go through.
They noted that the M1 Garand Rifle is used in the government-chartered Civilian Marksmanship Program. It was also given exemption in California U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 bill.
They also claimed that blocking the deal would harm the company and its 200-plus employees.
And according to the company, that’s exactly what happened.
“As a consequence of this denial, there has been a reduction in work and Century has had to make the difficult decision to layoff 41 Vermont employees,” the company wrote.
“I think the Obama administration made a bad bad mistake,” said Leahy, according to WCAX.
“This is not like selling a bunch of assault weapons; these are basically collectors’ items,,” he said. “I’m a gun owner and these are not the things someone is going to use to hold up a bank, or shoot people, they are legitimate collector items.”