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Old guns get a new life

ST. CLOUD — On April 26, 2014, Harry Sieben, the secretary of the Civilian Marksmanship Program, presented a plaque of appreciation to the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, Maj. Gen Richard Nash.

The plaque was presented to General Nash for his support of the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The citation read in part, “President Teddy Roosevelt created a relationship between the Civilian Marksmanship Program and the National Guard that has flourished for more than a century. The Minnesota National Guard, through the leadership of Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, has strengthened the bond.”

According to Sieben, the Civilian Marksmanship Program was started by Teddy Roosevelt to increase marksmanship skills throughout the United States. Today the program flourishes by selling surplus rifles to customers who belong to CMP-affiliated clubs.

Another key focus for the CMP is its emphasis on youth marksmanship skills and firearm safety. According to the CMP website the program “is dedicated to the respect and safe handling of firearms, instilling patriotism and discipline in youth participants”.

During its existence the CMP has sold tens of thousands of Army surplus rifles in the .30-caliber and .22-caliber varieties. The rifles are given to the CMP by the U.S. Army for further sale to the public. Customers must be U.S. citizens, who pass a background check and belong to CMP-affiliated clubs.

Many of the weapons sold have come from excess or surplus stores within all branches of the military or federal government.

“I have worked with customs, border patrol, forestry, and law enforcement agencies to facilitate donations. The CMP pays for the freight,” said Denny Lord, the corporation’s special projects officer.

Lord added that for many organizations it is a win-win situation. The organization gets to turn in old weapons for which they are responsible but can’t use. And the tax payers win because federal money isn’t used to house weapons that are considered obsolete.

If there is a federal or state organization out there that has weapons which they are no longer using, they should contact Art Jankowski at 586-282-0927. Jankowski is the U.S. Army Civilian Marksmanship program manager.