Proponents of the Veterans' Firearms Heritage Act (H.R. 420/S. 798), legislation that protects World War II and Korean War-era veterans and their heirs who neglected to register some war-relic firearms with the federal government, say the measure has gained strong bi-partisan support and reached 219 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
Sponsored by Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) in the House and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) in the Senate, the legislation would provide a 90-day amnesty period during which veterans and their family members could register firearms acquired overseas before Oct. 31, 1968, without fear of prosecution. Congress granted a limited amnesty in 1968, but many veterans did not receive enough notice to participate.
"This common-sense bill has more than enough bipartisan support in the House to move it forward today," Rehberg said this week. "It's time for the House to act quickly and decisively. These American heroes have been forced into the shadow of a poorly executed law for long enough. In this case, justice delayed is truly justice denied."
During World War II and the Korean Conflict, many veterans acquired war-relic firearms, which was a lawful practice at the time. However, under current law, if the firearms were not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record during a single 30-day registration period more than four decades ago, the veteran or their heirs may be subject to ciminal charges.
The Veterans' Firearms Heritage Act does not apply to all firearms brought home by veterans as war souvenirs, such as common relics like bolt-action rifles and semi-automatic pistols. The only firearms requiring registration at the federal level are those subject to the National Firearms Act, such as fully automatic guns and other NFA firearms.
Under the bill, the U.S. Attorney General would be required to create and distribute clearly printed notices providing information regarding the amnesty period and the requirements for registering a firearm during such period.
Further, H.R. 420/S. 798 would amend federal law relating to machine guns, allowing their "transfer to or by, or possession by, a museum which is open to the public and incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation under applicable State law."