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Yes, he could bring it home, but it didn't have the firing pin.
An otherwise complete AK-47 rifle without the firing pin remains a machinegun under federal law (readily restorable to functional condition), and anyone possessing such an item or attempting to import it into the United States is committing a serious felony offense. Even the rifle's receiver completely stripped of all other parts and firing controls remains a machinegun under federal law.

US military command authorities were very well aware of these laws and strictly enforced compliance. I have no doubt that a number of restricted items were smuggled back to the US, but not with any type of official sanction or legal exemption. Since most of the troops were young men with limited experience (average age of infantrymen was 22) I'm sure there were any number of misconceptions or misunderstandings, but I seriously doubt that any command officers or senior staff ever allowed any soldier to carry a AK-47 out of Vietnam. Frankly, any officer or NCO who knowingly allowed such a thing to happen would also face court martial proceedings, probably lucky to get by with a Bad Conduct Discharge in lieu of a prison sentence.

Good stories are common, especially around poker tables or pitchers of beer. Even more common are the "I knew a guy who knew another guy who swore that he heard some other guy ..............". Hang around any group of veterans for a while and you will find that no one was a truck driver, or a supply clerk, or a cook, everyone was Special Forces, or SEALs, or Recon Marines, or fighter pilots.

Best regards.
formerly Sergeant, 11F4P (infantry operations & intelligence, airborne, Pathfinders), Vietnam 1969-71.
formerly US Army Reserve Training Command.
retired Police Chief.
 

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He shouldn't have had to. I thought that was taken care of a couple of hundred years ago. To be precise, December 15, 1791.
Unfortunately, that's not how things work today.
 
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Too bad his father did not take care of this before he passed.
Too bad we have unnecessary firearm laws also. But, you're right. His father should have got it registered.
 

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More than a few AK's found their way to the US during the Vietnam era. Even more arrived from across the Mexico border with smugglers. Several thousand were illegally delivered from China while Mr. Clinton presided, and the Chinese company's US agent was a frequent guest at the White House. I suspect that there have been some coming in from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places in more recent years.

Maybe if we make these things illegal they will just go away forever. Maybe not.
Paging Eric Holder, paging Eric Holder. Your presence is required at the front desk...
 

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How about during WW2. You always hear the stories about the GI's bringing back Thompson's and then the guys who mailed home all kinds of contraband like entire Jeeps piece by piece.
Are they also BS?
 

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How about during WW2. You always hear the stories about the GI's bringing back Thompson's and then the guys who mailed home all kinds of contraband like entire Jeeps piece by piece.
Are they also BS?
Several episode's of "TV show MASH" about this stuff going on in Korean War also. I'd say it's reach more of an "urban legend" status, as @LimaCharlie said.
 

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I didn't know it was the duty of the gunsmith to enforce ATF policy. Confiscating someone's property can go really wrong really quickly
Amen... I would have cleaned it up, and pretended I didn't notice... I'm not doing their job for them. In this case, I'm fully support Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
 

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Amen... I would have cleaned it up, and pretended I didn't notice... I'm not doing their job for them. In this case, I'm fully support Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
I don't know any Class 3 dealer, gunsmith, business man that would risk his livelihood and freedom over an unregistered weapon.
 

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How about during WW2. You always hear the stories about the GI's bringing back Thompson's and then the guys who mailed home all kinds of contraband like entire Jeeps piece by piece.
Are they also BS?
I’ve seen with my own eyes Vietnam guns, and also full auto non-war guns brought back from far off places by service members with clearances and creds that would allow them to waltz through any border or customs. These are guys who had diplomatic roles, embassy security (an attaché in Colombia), one was Blue Light. So they’re out there, and most brought them back in luggage like I’d carry my underwear.
 

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I’ve seen with my own eyes Vietnam guns, and also full auto non-war guns brought back from far off places by service members with clearances and creds that would allow them to waltz through any border or customs. These are guys who had diplomatic roles, embassy security (an attaché in Colombia), one was Blue Light. So they’re out there, and most brought them back in luggage like I’d carry my underwear.
Yes, I also seen a few being taken away by the Cops. One old boy had a M-79 with ammo. He said it was for deer hunting. They took him away. This took place soon as we got off the plane back in the world. They wouldn't let me bring this back. The Weedmonkey didn't need it any-more. Little French 9 mm model 49 as I recall.
 

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They even took it to the extreme. As I was processing out, someone next to me wasn't even allowed to take home an m16 magazine that was deformed by a bullet hole. The magazine had stopped a round meant for him... Now we all thought that was stupid, cruel and just not right. If it were me, I'd have tried to talk to an officer, but none of us were wanting to wait around. He should have just mailed it home.

I've no idea how strictly they checked everyone coming home from WWII. Dad came home on the Queen Mary with his Garand in his Duffel Bag. My Uncle came home with a beautiful 16 gauge Darne Double Barrel shotgun in his. My Grandfather had his 30-40 Krag from the Spanish American War. I almost mailed my M2 Carbine folding stock home, but a friend wanted to use it. Some of that stuff made it through the mail and some got caught by the xray machines. I think we all had enough common sense not to risk sending a full auto or any weapon home through the mail. I wanted to bring a .22 revolver back with me into country after a leave to shoot rats with, but I knew it would just be too risky to violate all the regs if I tried. Somehow they made it over there because many were being sold from one guy to another.
 

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How about during WW2. You always hear the stories about the GI's bringing back Thompson's and then the guys who mailed home all kinds of contraband like entire Jeeps piece by piece.
Are they also BS?
Along with two Mauser 98k rifles, my dad brought back brought back a pre-war FN manufactured BAR that had apparently been captured by the Germans when they overran Belgium, then recaptured by US forces in 1945. It was fully functional but had no magazines with it. My grandfather soldered a small brass plug in the breech which rendered it inoperable, so dad could get an approval document from the FBI. My brother still has the document, and he donated the weapon to the Military Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas about 15 years ago.

As a 10-12 year old kid, I used to play “Army” with that thing all over the neighborhood in St. Louis during the mid 1950s - without any hysterical housewives calling the cops. :smile:
 

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It's been my experience with family and friends that those that were in Vietnam don't talk about it much. Especially if they saw combat. YMMV. My BIL was there, he's been my BIL since about a year after he returned or about 49 years now, I'm 62, he's 72. I've tried engaging him about it with light talk of the 'getting there' and 'getting back' parts, not much of the 'while there' parts. He'd only give a short and sweet -all of it sucked- type answer, and then changed the subject.

His best friend also won't talk much about it, they were there together. All he would ever say was that he got shot during a lucky trip/fall during a very hasty 'strategic withdrawal'. He had to explain the scar that was evident when he went without a shirt and where it entered in his upper thigh and exited out his shoulder and the destroyed tissue in between. It was a nasty scar but barely damaged any muscles other than some superficial gluteus maximus muscle that hasn't caused much trouble since. It just followed under his skin, apparently held inside by skin and clothing until it came out his shoulder and went past his ear. It went in on the outside of the thigh/butt and crossed his back and came out on the opposite side. Other than saying it felt like a red hot iron bar was in his back it didn't slow him down much. He got home to tell about it.

But, all that was talked about 35-40 years ago. I haven't engaged in that conversation since, except with my sister. She says he still has nightmares about it occasionally.
 

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I have a Rumanian AK that one day in an indoor range it went full auto on me, the range officer was sitting in back of me, I turned around and asked him did you see that ? him, what ? it when full auto, him nah, two minutes later it did it again, pick all my gear and went home, order a trigger group, and fix it myself, apparently the US complaint made parts were the issue, go figure.
 

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I didn't know it was the duty of the gunsmith to enforce ATF policy. Confiscating someone's property can go really wrong really quickly
I do not know one real gunsmith that is not also a FFL. If he had not done so he would spend years in jail. He has no way of knowing if he is being setup. He did the right thing.

Some Explorer 2 . .22 rimfire were know as the wore to go into full auto on there own. I had one that did it while shooting with a LE friend . He was very concerned. I was more shocked than him I think. He chose to leave it up to me to take care of it. It was not caused by any altered parts. it was just wear on the weapon due to age and use. I did take it apart before leaving with it. That was back in the Brady Bill days.
 
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FWIW, I was a TC in the Central Highlands of RVN and came back in early 1970. I hear all sorts of stories about firearms, etc. being brought back by GIs. Undoubtedly some tiny percentage of GIs legally or illegally brought firearms back to the US, but I suspect the actual number was far less than RVN myth, legend and outright BS might indicate. So many seem to know this guy, who knew this guy, etc. When my group came through, I didn't see or hear of anybody bringing back anything that the Army might have disapproved of in the slightest. As we got ready to leave, we were constantly warned that anything considered contraband would be discovered, and that the unlucky miscreant would be going to LBJ, rather than on that Freedom Bird back to the World. Legally bringing back an AK? NO WAY!

A friend I've known since childhood, and have no reason to disbelieve, was in Infantry there. He said he had a Thompson SMG for a while. But when he got ready to leave, he gave it to another troop because he knew he could not get it back to the US. Our first Sergeant had a .38 Colt Trooper revolver, and I encountered an Armor crewman in another unit who had a commercial Browning Hi Power. Having guns that were not on the T.O.E. didn't seem to be a big issue in country, but getting them back to the US was a risk I doubt many were willing to take. For my own part, getting back to World was what mattered, souvenirs; Not at all....
 
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