Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Obama Administration Bans Import of Popular Russian Firearms

Thursday, July 17, 2014

This week, the Treasury Department used authority delegated to it by the president, under Executive Order 13661, to sanction Russian gun maker Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash). In the United States, the manufacturer is best known for its popular Saiga rifles and shotguns. While ostensibly a measure to curb aggression by some in the Russian Federation, the move does bar from importation firearms that gun control supporters have long sought to ban. We of course recognize the important role that enacting sanctions can have in furthering legitimate U.S. foreign policy interests. However, in this instance the extent to which these actions coincide with the stated domestic policy goals of gun control supporters is more than a little unsettling. As such, NRA-ILA is monitoring this situation closely.

Executive Order 13661, titled, “Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine,” was signed March 16th in response to Russian actions in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The order gives the Secretary of the Treasury the power to compile an appropriate list of entities to be sanctioned. On July 16th, the Treasury Department announced that it was expanding this list to include Kalashnikov Concern.

The old adage goes: The only decent product ever produced by the USSR was the AK-47. After the breakup of the USSR and the end of Cold War, Russia has continued to produce well-regarded AK-pattern rifles that have become popular among American gun owners. The intense U.S. demand for Saiga’s in recent years led to a 2012 New York Times article profiling the popular imports.

While the United States government blames the Ukrainian conflict for this latest move, gun control advocates will no doubt applaud the ban on importation of some of the very types of firearms at the center of recent domestic attempts to ban so-called “assault weapons.”

For current owners of Kalashnikov firearms, the Treasury Department has stated that firearms already owned by Americans or in the secondary market are not affected by the sanctions. In a FAQs that accompanied the July 16th announcement, the Treasury Department made clear:

If a U.S. person is in possession of a Kalashnikov Concern product that was bought and fully paid for prior to the date of designation (i.e., no payment remains due to Kalashnikov Concern), then that product is not blocked and OFAC sanctions would not prohibit the U.S. person from keeping or selling the product in the secondary market, so long as Kalashnikov Concern has no interest in the transaction.

Whatever the true basis of the current decision might be, import restrictions have long been used by the executive branch as a means of unilaterally enacting gun control. Historically, this has often occurred through abuses of the “sporting purposes” test.  For example, this standard is used in requiring the Attorney General to authorize import of any firearm that “is generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), however, has ignored the popularity of particular shooting sports to justify its attempts prohibit certain firearms. Further, the entire test is constitutionally suspect, particularly in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller decision which recognizes self-defense as core to the Second Amendment right.

This tactic was used in 1989 by George H. W. Bush, and in 1998 by Bill Clinton, to ban the import of several types of semi-automatic rifles. As recently as March, Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to Obama urging that he use the “sporting purposes” test to bar certain firearms from importation. In a similar example of executive branch gun control through import restrictions, in 1996, Clinton entered the U.S. into a “Voluntary Restraint Agreement” with Russia that banned the importation of several types of firearms.

More recently, importation of a popular brand of Russian ammunition that had long been available in the U.S. was abruptly banned under a federal regulation pertaining to so-called “armor piercing” handgun ammunition. BATFE has thus far failed to explain why this ammunition, favored by many recreational rifle shooters for its relative affordability, did not qualify for the “sporting purposes” exemption that has been applied to other military surplus cartridges designed for use in rifles. This has led to renewed calls for BATFE to explain its methodology for making “sporting purposes” determinations.

Taking into consideration these past import-based firearms restrictions, and the administration’s ongoing attempts to further gun control through executive actions, gun owners are rightfully skeptical. These latest sanctions will no doubt engender the idea among some that the Treasury Department is using a geopolitical crisis as a convenient excuse to advance the president’s domestic anti-gun agenda.

We will continue to look for opportunities to block the Obama administration's anti-gun agenda whether through the legal, legislative or political arenas.

TRENDING NOW
Dick’s Spends Big on Gun-Chopping, Virtue-Signaling Bonanza (But It Will Still Sell You a Firearm)

News  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Dick’s Spends Big on Gun-Chopping, Virtue-Signaling Bonanza (But It Will Still Sell You a Firearm)

Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, wants you to know he’s committed to keeping AR-15s “off the street.” But he’s also committed (for the time being) to selling other types of firearms.

California: Governor Newsom Signs Anti-Gun Bills into Law

Friday, October 11, 2019

California: Governor Newsom Signs Anti-Gun Bills into Law

Earlier today, Governor Newsom signed the seven anti-gun bills listed below into law.  

California: Anti-Gun and Anti-Hunting Bill Signed into Law

Monday, October 14, 2019

California: Anti-Gun and Anti-Hunting Bill Signed into Law

Prior to the October 13 deadline, Governor Newsom signed the final anti-gun and anti-hunting bills, AB 1254 and SB 172 into law.  

Number of Concealed Carry Permit Holders Increased Again

News  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Number of Concealed Carry Permit Holders Increased Again

Last week, economist John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center released “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2019,” his annual report on the number of concealed carry permit holders in the U.S.

Member Spotlight: Meet the Police Officer Who Told Congress She ‘Would Not Comply' with a Gun Ban

News  

Friday, October 4, 2019

Member Spotlight: Meet the Police Officer Who Told Congress She ‘Would Not Comply' with a Gun Ban

Last week, a retired Tulsa, Oklahoma law enforcement officer testified in a Congressional hearing that she “would not comply” if Congress passes a ban on firearms. Her bold assertion earned her national media attention and ...

Virginia’s Anti-gun Politicians Put Politics Before Fighting Gun Crime

News  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Virginia’s Anti-gun Politicians Put Politics Before Fighting Gun Crime

Virginia’s anti-gun politicians are serious about attacking law-abiding gun owners, but are indifferent about actual gun crime. As highlighted in a recent report in the Washington Free Beacon by Stephen Gutowski, the Virginia Department of Justice Services ...

Kamala Harris and Her Perplexing Anti-Gun Ideas

News  

Friday, August 2, 2019

Kamala Harris and Her Perplexing Anti-Gun Ideas

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), one of the two-dozen Democrat presidential hopefuls vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020, has been promoting her anti-gun platform for many months. This isn’t really news, as ...

Virginia Police Chief Advocates Ban on All Guns at U.S. House “Assault Weapons” Hearing

News  

Friday, September 27, 2019

Virginia Police Chief Advocates Ban on All Guns at U.S. House “Assault Weapons” Hearing

On Sept. 25, the Democrat-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a 3 ½ hour “hearing” entitled “Protecting America From Assault Weapons.” That framing of the issue underscored the erroneous notion that Americans need protection from ...

Grassroots Spotlight: NRA-ILA Fighting the Bloomberg Money In Virginia 2019 Elections

News  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Grassroots Spotlight: NRA-ILA Fighting the Bloomberg Money In Virginia 2019 Elections

The Nov. 5th election may be the most consequential ever for our Second Amendment rights in the Commonwealth. That’s because every seat in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate is up for grabs and gun control ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.