A Browning .50 Caliber Machine gun, left, and M240 machine guns are lined up for cleaning in U.S. Army barracks in Khost province, Afghanistan.(Photo: Victor J. Blue)
WASHINGTON - Building on its campaign to restrict high-powered firearms, the Obama administration issued two directives Thursday that would ban the private re-importation of surplus military firearms originally provided to U.S. allies and require applicants who seek to transfer guns to private trusts or corporations to undergo criminal background checks.
The actions are an expansion of the administration's attempt to reduce gun violence unveiled in January, a month after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.
The announcement also comes on the same day that B. Todd Jones will be sworn in as the first permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in seven years.
Under the administration's new proposals, the government, which had authorized the re-importation of 250,000 surplus military firearms since 2005, will deny all such future requests with the exception of those made on behalf of museums or other archives.
The new provision for background checks targets felons and others prohibited from owning guns who seek to bypass background check requirements by registering the firearms to private trusts or corporations.
According to the ATF, the bureau received more than 39,000 such transfer requests last year.
"Felons, domestic abusers and others prohibited from having guns can easily evade the required background check and gain access to machine guns or other particularly dangerous weapons by registering the weapon to a trust or corporation,'' according to the administration's written announcement.