Tester Moves To Protect Combat Veterans’ Trophy Firearms
Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, is urging federal officials to allow American combat veterans to legally register firearms they acquired on the field of battle. American veterans who acquired certain types of weapons during combat under rules of military conflict—guns known as “trophy” firearms—are often unable to legally register the weapons, which means those veterans could be charged with illegal possession of firearms. Tester introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this year to open a 90-day period for veterans and their families to register firearms for legal ownership—guns acquired during World War II and the Korean War, when servicemembers were allowed to legally acquire relic firearms.
The bill would apply specifically to machineguns and other automatic firearms, and would not impact more common trophy weapons like bolt-action rifles or semi-automatic pistols, which do not need to be registered. Tester’s legislation is endorsed by the National Rifle Association and backed by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). "It is important to protect veterans and members of our armed forces from unnecessary prosecution and give them a viable path to comply with federal law," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "Those who fought to preserve our freedom should not be penalized for their desire to lawfully own firearms from the battlefield."
In a letter with McCain, Tester today pushed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Director Kenneth Melson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, to use their authority to implement a registration period like the one called for by the legislation. “It is critical that we give our veterans another 90-day amnesty period to comply with the law without fear of penalty,” Tester and McCain wrote. “If an amnesty is not provided, we will be further convinced that legislation is necessary in order for our veterans to register their lawfully obtained firearms.” A copy of Tester’s bipartisan Veterans’ Heritage Firearms Act is available on his website, HERE.