Bringing back a pistol from Iraq


Andrew Rothman
March 11, 2004, 12:21 PM
My pal seems to have acquired a Iraqi-manufactured pistol while stationed there (see What are the issues with bringing it into the states?

It's not an "assault weapon" -- it is a Beretta clone with an 8-round magazine. Will he face any issues other than airline regs?

Any vets have any idea?


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AJ Dual
March 11, 2004, 12:29 PM
From what I gather from numerous threads, that in this PC day and age, it's nearly impossible. The only official examples of "bring backs" are items requisitioned for unit and base museums and display cases.

I've heard stories that our service people have even been given hard times about enemy bayonets on occasion.

I'm sure that there are plenty of vets and active/reserve members who can fill you in on the details.

Some reward for putting your own butt on the line for your country, oft while being in charge of multi-million dollar weapons systems that can level entire city blocks, huh? :rolleyes:

Ed Ely
March 11, 2004, 12:47 PM
Those machines are considered "war trophies" and as such can be
brought into the US of A by our military. The BATF or ATF has a special
form that one can obtain, fill out and register the machine and it is
yours. It also includes full auto.

I edit to include these sites:

Edit for another update:

Probably most of you have seen on the tube by late last PM, there
were numberous GIs that belong to the Ky Air Guard that brought
back AK47s and have been found out. They are going up for Court-Martial.

My info above about the web sites is outdated. It did apply back in the "good ol' days" however.

March 11, 2004, 12:56 PM

Your bud better check himself. I THINK there is a General Order prohibiting that. I just read an article about a NG Company Commander from South Carolina and his First Sergeant that are being Court-Martialed for sending a weapon back. IIRC, The CO was going on home on an R&R and had his First Shirt mail a pistol home. Didn't make it through postal inspection. PC or whatever, it ain't nowhere near like WWII when everybody almost brought Mausers, Lugers, etc. etc. home. Again, he better check with hsi Chain of Command or he'll be in deep kimchi.

March 11, 2004, 01:41 PM
Your friend, being a diplomat and not a soldier, is most likely exempt from General Order #1. GO1 is the catch-all order for all deployments lately, which prohibits things such as alcohol, pornography, marrying local nationals, war trophies, etc. As such, he may be able to bring his pistol home with him.

If nothing else, he could possibly bring back the grip and slide.


Andrew Rothman
March 11, 2004, 01:46 PM
Aha. Thanks for the heads-up.

Based on your comments, I found this:
In order to retain and transport war trophies, military members must receive written permission from the theater commander. When the items are things such as firearms or shell casings, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Customs Service must also give their permission.

“Federal law requires that the desire to obtain souvenirs in a combat theater not blemish the conduct of combat operations, result in mistreatment of enemy personnel, dishonor enemy dead or further other unbecoming activity,” Olive said.

Furthermore, he said, Article 103 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states that military members must reasonably secure all public property taken from the enemy and turn over abandoned or captured property to the proper U.S. military representatives.

“Failure to carry out these duties or looting, pillaging or disposing of captured property for personal benefit is punishable by court-martial,” Olive said.

Furthermore, the Air Force, at least, says "no" to guns:

Air Force Joint Instruction 31-217, Control and Registration of War Trophies and War Trophy Firearms, governs possession and registration of war trophies by Air Force members.

“The instruction contains a long list of items that may not be retained as war trophies, period,” said Lt. Col. Brent Evans, deputy staff judge advocate, AFRC.

The list includes, but is not limited to: live ammunition, property of the U.S. government, weapons defined as “firearms” by the National Firearms Act, electronic equipment or components and enemy equipment not designed to be issued or carried by individuals, like a tank or motorcycle. Also banned are art or historical articles and items like gold, silver or jewelry.

In the case of combatant theater commanders, general orders concerning possession of war trophies can be even more restrictive than the instruction. For example, U.S. Central Command’s general order No. 1 specifically prohibits retention of personal items — dog tags, identification cards, letters, photos, etc. — belonging to the enemy. In addition, the order prohibits people from keeping weapons or any part of a foreign-made weapon as well as unit war trophies.

Also this:
There has been an increase in the number of investigations concerning soldiers who have taken articles from warsites prior to authorization, resulting in nationwide headline news.

Central Command (CENTCOM) General Order 1A prohibits soldiers and units from taking war trophies. The reason: it is unwise and potentially dangerous to ship firearms and possibly explosive materials via civilian aircraft, the Army’s primary source for shipping soldiers’ belongings overseas. This prohibition does not include the lawful acquisition of purchased souvenirs that can be legally imported into the United States.

It is possible to ship home equipment if it is designated as historical property. A unit can get its captured equipment designated as historical property by securing the equipment at a designated enemy equipment collection point. The equipment should be tagged for easy identification. The unit must then submit a request through their chain of command to the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) Military History Group, requesting the material be designated as historical property.

The CENTCOM commander has limited requests to one weapon or weapon system per battalion, plus up to 12 nonweapon items. AK-47s, pistols, machine guns with tripods and ammunition canisters, and a T55 tank all count as weapons or weapon systems. Helmets, flags, a complete uniform set, etc. would be classified as nonweapon systems.

The request form is available from the CFLCC Military History Group at DSN 312-438-8021/29 or by e-mail at

Requests should be submitted 60 days prior to leaving. The request has to go through the chain of command to the CFLCC Military History Group. It must then be approved by the Center for Military History in Washington, DC. Once approved, it must then be checked by CENTCOM; the unit will then be notified that it can pick up and transport its equipment back to the United States.

Units must turn in all captured equipment to the Enemy Equipment Collection (EEC) point. Units must carefully tag only the equipment they want designated as historical property. The tag should include the following information: unit name, unit identification code, unit points of contact (POCs) with phone numbers in theatre and in the United States, and e-mail addresses. Units must include equipment descriptions and serial numbers. DA form 3161 must be completed to begin the chain-of-custody record.

Units unsure of the policy who have inadvertently sent enemy equipment home should contact their chain of command immediately to avoid penalty. Anyone violating Central Command or General Order 1A guide-lines is subject to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (From CENTCOM Media Desk)

March 11, 2004, 01:58 PM
OEF_VET, the guy in the picture in the link looked like an Army specialist to me.

Andrew Rothman
March 11, 2004, 01:59 PM
Your friend, being a diplomat and not a soldier, is most likely exempt from General Order #1.

I don't know - he's been "loaned" to the Pentagon and serves under the Bremer heirarchy. I guess I'll advise him to check carefully.

Thanks to all for the excellent advice.

Andrew Rothman
March 11, 2004, 02:04 PM
Got a message from my pal -- he says he is indeed not subject to UCMJ.

Now we're just talking about:

* Importing a non-banned firearm from a foreign country
* Traveling on an international flight with a firearm

Anyone ever do this?

March 11, 2004, 02:54 PM
mea culpa, mea culpa. I was in the ready, fire, aim mode. The picture was taken by your friend not of your friend. A la Roseanna Danna Danna or whatever "never mind". I have no earthly idea what restrictions are on other than military. Looks like a dollar chasing a dime though.

March 11, 2004, 03:39 PM
Your friend falls into one of three categories:

1. If he is a military service member (regardless of detached assignment to State Dept), the previously posted links and orders apply. To bring a firearm home is going to require that it be brought back as a UNIT trophy or training aid NOT as a personal prize. Even as a unit trophy, there may be a requirement to "DeMil" (render inop by welding) the weapon. All troops are routinely searched by Military Police and US Customs (at both point of departure and port of entry back in the States). Mail is also scanned, checked, sniffed, searched. The authorities have gotten very good at this and have already seen through some unbelievably ingenious attempts.

2. He has diplomatic status and can bring something back thru diplomatic pouch...highly unlikely 'cause those folks know who they are and don't have to ask. They also have a basic load full of rules, policies, and procedures. "Hey...I think I'll toss my career for a cheap pistol...".

3. Your friend is legally a "tourist" or working for an NGO (non-governmental organization like the Red Cross, UN, Hamsters Without Borders). In this case, he is required to follow the same BATF importation procedures as any other US Citizen returning from abroad. In a nutshell, he fills out required import form, shows proof of ownership, and submits said paperwork at least 90 days prior to intended return to USA. If you have a really sad story and are capable of writing a coherent explanation of the same, the servicing BATF office MAY expedite the 90 day process down to about 3-4 weeks (maybe...BTDT).

The days of bringing trophy firearms home are long over. I am personally aware of the legal troubles certain friends have reaped by trying to beat the system. Tell him to buy several nice oriental rugs. They are a MUCH better value (whether for keeping or for resale) and infinitely easier to bring back. One for his floor, sell the others, use the profit to buy all the nice guns he wants after he gets home!

March 11, 2004, 04:08 PM
It sounds like an Egyptian Helwan Pistol.

March 11, 2004, 11:09 PM
Screw the legal way, if he was there, he deserves whatever he can get back, and the ways to get it back are up to his imagination. I had a "hypothetical" friend who "might" have sent 2 back last year. One was disassembled and sent in a box before mail screening procedures were very strict, and they were really only looking for AK sized packages at that point. Hypothetically, of course. The other "might" have been put inside a small radio/CD player and sent home. This would have been vulnerable to x-ray, but at that point, packages were being taken to the post office unsealed for inspection, so it had already been screened. When I came back through customs in Kuwait, everyone's baggage was thoroughly screened, don't even think about trying to sneak it through that way. But, I was never patted down, I never went through a metal detector, and I kept my issue pistol on me at all times. Thus, if you have brass balls, it seems like another way would be to drop it into a pocket and walk it through, letting the other members of your party walk through first so you can see what procedures are occuring, and dispose of it if it becomes necessary. Is it all legal? No. Do I care? No. Can I be trusted with a weapon? If not, I better hand off this Benelli dangling from my shoulder and get a flight home. And finally, the most important question to me: The Greatest Generation did it, why shouldn't I?

Andrew Rothman
March 11, 2004, 11:11 PM
It's a Tariq. See other thread.

Anyway, he says that he is, as a FSO, not subject to GO1, that it was purchased, not "taken," and that he intends to import it normally.

Not that that will be easy.

Anyway, he is most concerned about having it there than bringing it home. Baghdad is a dangerous place.

My friend never owned a gun before. We may have a convert!

March 12, 2004, 07:48 AM
Heck, maybe you can talk him into buying a bunch of them real cheap, importing them, and then selling them on THR for a reasonable profit. I'd buy one, as I'm sure a lot of other members would.

March 12, 2004, 08:42 AM
If he runs into import restrictions (and he wants to stay legal). Would it be possible to "sell" it to a licensed firearms importer in the States and then have then resell it to him? Not sure about how the details of that work though. Might want to drop a line to AIM surplus or someone like that. Its probably the hard way to do it though.

March 12, 2004, 10:00 AM

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