CMP 1911s
photo from

On May 8, we posted a story on the Range365 Facebook page about Alabama congressman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who tacked a proposed provision onto this year’s National Defense Authorization Act that would release a cache of about 100,000 old, unused M1911A1 pistols from military storage. The guns would then be given to the Civilian Marksmanship Program, which would then refurbish and sell them, with proceeds going to the CMP.

That would seem like a pretty good deal, especially since taxpayers foot the bill for storing the guns every year. However, on May 12, The Huffington Post ran a story with this headline: “Defense Bill Would Put 100,000 Untraceable Guns on Streets.” Yes, we’re talking about the same provision.

Later that day, a story on claimed the article’s author, Michael McAuliffe, didn’t do his research stating facts about the CMP sale procedure that aren’t true.

It’s actually not that simple to buy a gun from the CMP, though they are exempt from some rules and regulations.For instance, they don’t have to ship a gun to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL)–they can send one to a private residence as long as certain criteria are met. Here are some:

• CMP guns can only be sold to members of CMP-affiliated clubs who are also U.S. citizens, over 18 years of age, and who are legally eligible to purchase firearms.

• The purchaser must provide proof of age, proof of citizenship, and a copy of a current membership card. A national NRA membership doesn’t qualify.

• For every single gun sale, the CMP must complete a background check on the purchaser, which is approved by the FBI. For people living in most states, this is more involved than buying a gun from an FFL.

• Sales are limited to surplus military firearms, ammunition, parts, and other items.

That doesn’t quite match up with the “unregulated distribution of up to 100,000 Colt. 45s” that the HuffPo article claims will take place if the provision passes. The same article also states “…the CMP sells guns over the Internet, and has no mechanism to verify who is making purchases.” That’s just not true.

The article then goes on to note that “the Department of Justice has tracked an average of nearly 1,800 Colt .45s being used in crimes every year over the last decade, including a significant but unspecified number of those guns that were originally military surplus.”

Broken down, that statement doesn’t mean much. Using National Institute of Justice stats, which only have numbers up to 2011, from 2001 to 2011 there were an average of 470,372 firearm incidents. That doesn’t include fatalities. According to the story, of those, 1,800 involved the model in question, which represents 0.3 percent. Of that small percentage, only a smaller, unspecified number were originally, at some point, military surplus.