Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Just in Time for His Party’s Convention, Obama Administration Releases Latest Executive Gun Control

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Just in Time for His Party’s Convention, Obama Administration Releases Latest Executive Gun Control

On Friday, July 22, just as members of his party were gathering in Philadelphia to coronate Hillary Clinton as their presidential nominee, the Obama Administration once again released a sweeping gun control measure by executive fiat. This time the bad news came via the U.S. State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), which is primarily responsible for administering the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and its implementing rules, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The upshot is that DDTC is labeling commercial gunsmiths as “manufacturers” for performing relatively simple work such as threading a barrel or fabricating a small custom part for an older firearm. Under the AECA, “manufacturers” are required to register with DDTC at significant expense or risk onerous criminal penalties. 

As with prior executive actions on guns, the administration released its dictate suddenly and without advance warning to or prior input from affected businesses, completely bypassing the normal formalities associated with a significant rulemaking. The guidance is also likely to result in more confusion than clarity and may significantly chill heretofore legal conduct associated with gunsmithing.

By way of background, the AECA and ITAR concern rules by which military materiel is exported from, and imported to, the United States. The so-called “defense articles” governed by the AECA/ITAR are compiled in what is known as the U.S. Munitions List and include some, but not all, firearms and ammunition, as well as their parts and components. Thus, for purposes of the regime, a spring or floorplate from the magazine of a controlled firearm is subject to the same regulatory framework as the firearm itself.

The AECA/ITAR require anybody who engages in the business of “manufacturing” a defense article to register with DDTC and pay a registration fee that for new applicants is currently $2,250 per year. These requirements apply, even if the business does not, and does not intend to, export any defense article. Moreover, under ITAR, “only one occasion of manufacturing … a defense article” is necessary for a commercial entity to be considered “engaged in the business” and therefore subject to the regime’s requirements.

Adding to the confusion, the Gun Control Act of 1968 and its amendments (GCA) also regulate firearm manufacturing, importing, and exporting. Both of the laws also use the same or similar terms but apply them in different ways. Thus, what triggers the legal requirement for an entity to be registered as a “manufacturer” under the AECA/ITAR may or may not also bring that entity within the scope of the GCA, and vice versa. 

DDTC’s new “guidance” only makes this situation worse by coming up with a confusing and counterintuitive list of activities that it considers “gunsmithing” versus “manufacturing” (despite the fact that it insists it relies on the “ordinary, contemporary, common meaning” of those terms). 

For example, DDTC generally labels procedures that involve cutting, drilling, or machining of an existing firearm in order to improve its accuracy or operation or to change its caliber as “manufacturing,” even if they do not create a new and distinct firearm. This includes threading a muzzle for a muzzle brake or blueprinting that requires machining of a barrel.   

On the other hand, DDTC contends that gunsmithing includes only very simple procedures, such as the one-for-one drop-in replacement of parts that do not require cutting, drilling, or machining for installation.  But even then, if the parts “improve the accuracy, caliber, or other aspects of firearm operation,” “manufacturing” may occur. Finishing treatments for firearms generally are not considered manufacturing under the guidance, nor are cosmetic flourishes such as engraving. Meanwhile the mounting of a scope that involves the machining of new dovetails or the drilling and tapping of holes may or not be “manufacturing,” depending on whether the scope improves the accuracy of the firearm beyond its prior configuration. 

For those who are confused by the guidance, DDTC offers the option of requesting an advisory opinion through the agency. The regulation providing for such opinions, however, states they “are not binding on the Department of State, and may not be used in future matters before the Department.” Moreover, the request involves typical bureaucratic hoops to negotiate, including providing both an original and seven copies of the request and supporting information in hardcopy form. 

DDTC’s move appears aimed at expanding the regulatory sweep of the AECA/ITAR and culling many smaller commercial gunsmithing operations that do not have the means to pay the annual registration fee or the sophistication to negotiate DDTC’s confusing maze of bureaucracy. Like ATF’s early “guidance” this year on the GCA’s licensing requirement for firearm “dealers,” it is also likely to have a significant chilling effect on activity that would not even be considered regulated.   

The administration’s latest move serves as a timely reminder of how the politicized and arrogant abuse of executive power can be used to suppress Second Amendment rights and curtail lawful firearm-related commerce. That lesson should not be forgotten when voters go to the polls this November.  

TRENDING NOW
The Danger Of A “Not In My Backyard” Mentality On Shooting Ranges

News  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Danger Of A “Not In My Backyard” Mentality On Shooting Ranges

Muscatine County, Iowa, is home to about 40,000 people, and like too many places around the country, gun owners there have no public range where they can practice or compete safely. That may be changing, ...

Court to Texas College Professors: Your Irrational Fear of Gun Owners Is Not Legally Addressable

News  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Court to Texas College Professors: Your Irrational Fear of Gun Owners Is Not Legally Addressable

Last Thursday, a federal judge in Austin, Texas, dismissed a lawsuit by several professors who sought to block the University of Texas from implementing a state law that provides for the lawful carrying of concealed ...

California: Anti-Gun Bills to be Heard in Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, July 19

Monday, July 17, 2017

California: Anti-Gun Bills to be Heard in Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, July 19

On Wednesday, July 19, anti-gun bills SB 464 and SB 497 are scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee at 9AM in State Capitol room 4202.  Assembly Bill 424 remains eligible for third ...

CMP Sales of 1911s One Step Closer With House Passage of 2018 NDAA

Friday, July 14, 2017

CMP Sales of 1911s One Step Closer With House Passage of 2018 NDAA

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. Included in the bill is a provision that would make U.S. Army surplus 1911 .45 ACP ...

Gun Control Groups: Good at Gloating, Bad at Counting on Advancing National Reciprocity Effort

Friday, July 14, 2017

Gun Control Groups: Good at Gloating, Bad at Counting on Advancing National Reciprocity Effort

Apparently, Michael Bloomberg is good at counting money but not so good at counting votes. This week, Breitbart reported that Everytown for Gun Safety, Michael Bloomberg’s gun ban conglomerate, was claiming a “win” for congressional ...

Run, Hide, Perish – Survival Do’s and Don’ts from Across the Pond

News  

Friday, July 14, 2017

Run, Hide, Perish – Survival Do’s and Don’ts from Across the Pond

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advises persons at risk of harm from an active shooter to “Run, Hide, Fight” (in that order), recommending “fight” – incapacitating or “attempt[ing] to take the active ...

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.

One More Reason Gun Owners Should Be Celebrated

News  

Second Amendment  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

One More Reason Gun Owners Should Be Celebrated

The safety record of America’s gun owners is nothing short of stunning. 

California: DOJ Releases Proposed Regulations Regarding Ammunition Vendor Licensing

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

California: DOJ Releases Proposed Regulations Regarding Ammunition Vendor Licensing

On Friday, July 14th, the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms (“DOJ”) claims to have released its anticipated proposed regulations for the issuance of ammunition vendor licenses.  Under the Administrative Procedure Act, a government ...

Commerce Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson Steers Pro-Gun Spending Bill to House Floor

Friday, July 14, 2017

Commerce Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson Steers Pro-Gun Spending Bill to House Floor

On Thursday, the House Committee on Appropriations approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill, which funds various federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, for the next year. The bill ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
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.