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Vermont gun dealer: Obama executive action on guns cost 41 jobs

A soldier shoulders an M1 Garand rifle in this 1950-era photo.
A soldier shoulders an M1 Garand rifle in this 1950-era photo.
Three Lions, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As a direct result of executive action taken last year by Barack Obama, Century International Arms says it was forced to lay off 41 workers on Thursday. The move, the Daily Caller reported Saturday, angered even some of the state's liberal lawmakers.

The gun dealer had a $30 million contract to import World War II-era M1 Garand rifles from South Korea. Chuck Ross said the State Department gave preliminary approval, and the transaction was cleared by the State, Justice and Defense Departments.

But an executive action blocked the deal, Ross added, despite pleas from Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Peter Shumlin -- both of whom are Democrats. WCAX said both lawmakers wrote Obama last month asking him to reconsider.

"I think the Obama administration made a bad bad mistake," Leahy said. "This is not like selling a bunch of assault weapons; these are basically collectors’ items. 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.

In their letter, the Democrats explained that the M1 is "an historically valuable and collectible firearm" that has not been manufactured in over 50 years. Many of the weapons still in existence, they added, are outside the United States. They also noted that an exemption for the rifles was contained in Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.

None of that apparently mattered to the administration. According to the company, which said it had invested "considerable funds" for approval and financing, “the White House intervened at the last minute and blocked this importation.” As a result, the deal was nixed and the workers laid off.

The administration justified its decision by citing what it called “two common-sense executive actions” taken last year in an effort to allegedly "keep the most dangerous firearms out of the wrong hands.” One of the actions banned the type of transaction Century International was attempting to legally complete. As a direct result, 41 people lost their jobs.