The Washington Post traces the recent history of assault weapon imports into the U.S. In the 1980s, Rene Carlos Vos, a northern Virginia arms dealer, formed a company called Blue Sky Productions in cooperation with Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association. Legislative changes that LaPierre backed opened the door to the import of military-surplus weapons, which effectively had been banned for two decades. The legislation helped make a new, more powerful class of firearms more readily available to civilian gun owners and begin to shift the profile of American gun ownership.
Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center says the 200,000 M-I rifles imported by Blue Sky from South Korea were “basically the first of the military weapons marketed to the civilian population. If you were going to draw an 'assault weapons timeline,' it would start with the M-1 and eventually end up where we are today.” Amid government reports that M-1 carbine rifles and newer military weapons are being used by violent criminals, the Obama administration has been pushing to limit imports. The NRA opposes a proposal by President Obama to tighten the rules on importing military-style weapons.