Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, has introduced the Veterans' Firearms Heritage Act to correct a law that currently treats World War II and Korean War-era veterans like criminals for not registering war relic firearms with the federal government.
"Arbitrarily treating law abiding citizens like criminals is one of the biggest problems with federal gun registration requirements," said Rehberg, a member of the Second Amendment Task Force. "In this case, we're literally talking about punishing men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedom. It's unacceptable and I'm going try and do something about it."
During WWII and the Korean War, many veterans acquired war relic firearms, which was a lawful practice at the time. Under current law, if the firearms were not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record during a single 30-day registration period in the 1970s, the veteran or their heir may be convicted of illegally possessing the firearm.
The Veterans' Heritage Firearms Act will provide a limited amnesty for veterans who served overseas between 1934 and 1968. During the amnesty period, veterans will be able to register war relic firearms without fear of prosecution. This amnesty also extends to the veteran's lawful heirs who inherited these weapons. If the veteran or heir chooses not to keep the weapon, the law would allow them to transfer the relic to a museum or collection without penalty in an effort to preserve these valuable pieces of America's military history.
"Having served more than twenty years in the U.S. Army, I know that many service members, myself included, bring home relics and souvenirs from their tours of duty," Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-IA), who introduced the legislation with Rehberg. "Often times, a firearm from a tour becomes a family heirloom to a relative who doesn't realize it should be registered with the National Firearms Act. We should give these veterans, service members and their families an opportunity to openly register these firearms without penalty."
"Our veterans make countless sacrifices defending freedom. America's heroes should be allowed to keep firearms obtained overseas without fear of prosecution, as they become an important part of our nation's history," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. "We applaud Congressman Rehberg for his efforts to keep these meaningful pieces in the lawful possession of our veterans."