NSSF On DDTC “Guidance” On ITAR

The US State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls recently issued so-called guidance on what activities would come under the umbrella of the International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR). We just interviewed gunsmith Joseph LaJoy of LaJoy Precision on Friday night for the Polite Society Podcast on this very issue. Activities listed as manufacturing and thus subject to ITAR include traditional gunsmithing activities such as threading a barrel or reaming a new chamber. Gunsmiths will now have to pay an annual fee of $2,250 if they do something as simple as that or face massive fines and/or imprisonment. We concluded the rationale behind this “guidance” was to attack the gun culture and to drive gunsmiths out of business.

Joseph LaJoy said in the interview that he wished groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation would get involved in the issue. From Joseph’s mouth to the NSSF’s ear, the release below was sent out on Saturday.

NSSF Statement Regarding DDTC’s Recent Firearms “Guidance” on Registration
On July 22 the U.S. Department of State – Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) issued “guidance
meant to clarify who is required under the Arms Export Control Act
(AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to
register as a “manufacturer” of “defense articles,” which includes
firearms and ammunition products (U.S. Munitions List Categories I –
III), and pay an exorbitant annual $2,250 registration fee. Under the
law, registration is required even if the manufacturer does not export
and even if the manufacturer makes component parts.

DDTC
asserts that the guidance merely restates existing DDTC policy and
interpretation of the AECA and ITAR manufacturer registration
requirement.

Unfortunately,
DDTC’s “guidance” has created considerable and understandable confusion
and concern among gunsmiths and gun owners. The National Shooting
Sports Foundation (NSSF) is reviewing the guidance and will send a
letter of protest to DDTC expressing our strong opposition to the new
“guidance,” the scope of which clearly exceeds their statutory
authority. The term “manufacture” as used in the AECA and ITAR is its
ordinary dictionary definition. Clearly, many of the activities DDTC
claims require registration constitutes gun smithing and is not
manufacturing under any reasonable dictionary definition of the term.
DDTC’s position is similar to claiming an auto mechanic who fixes your
car is a car manufacturer.

NSSF
has been working diligently for many years to eliminate, or at least
significantly lower, the excessive and burdensome registration fee
especially for non-exporting manufacturers and non-essential component
parts manufacturers. Simply put, forcing small manufacturer to pay
$2,250 annually to register when they are not utilizing the DDTC export
licensing system to export products is an unfair and onerous regulatory
burden. This is even more outrageous when one considers that DDTC is
sitting on at least $140 million dollars of previously paid registration
fees collected over many years from exporters from many industries
including ours.

Additionally,
we have been working with allies in Congress to pressure the Obama
administration to complete the Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative,
which would with limited exceptions do away with the AECA and ITAR
manufacturer registration requirement and onerous fee for commercial and
sporting firearms.

To
date, the Obama Administration has refused to publish and implement the
regulatory changes necessary to transfer for export licensing of
commercial and sporting firearms and ammunition products to the
Department of Commerce from the Department of State. Read more on
Export Control Reform. Yet, the proposed rules have been drafted and
ready for publication since December 2012. Inaction persists despite
congressional testimony and letters to members of the U.S. House and the
Senate that they would publish the rules.

Why
has the Obama administration refused to move ECR forward for our
industry? It is really very simple. The Obama Administration is singling
out our industry for different treatment under the ECR because of its
gun control politics. It is time to force Congress to step in and stop
the Obama Administration’s gun control agenda from stopping this needed
reform. See the ECR dashboard.

How can members of the firearms industry and gun owners help?

  1. Call your U.S. Representative at 202-225-3121 and U.S. Senators at 202-224-3121 urge him or her to support Rep. Collin Peterson’s (D-Minn.) Resolution, (H. Res. 829) that
    demands the Obama administration complete the ECR and publish the
    proposed rules to transfer the licensing of commercial and sporting
    firearms and ammunition products to the Department of Commerce (which
    does not require registration or payment of a fee).
  2. Tell
    your U.S. Representative and Senators to force DDTC to stop imposing
    excessive and onerous registration fees on small businesses that do not
    export products. Tell them to support language in the Fiscal Year 2017
    State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that will reduce the
    registration fee to a nominal amount for all non-exporting manufacturers
    and component part manufacturers.
  3. Tell
    your U.S. Representative and Senators stop the Department of State from
    exceeding its statutory authority; that mounting new sights to improve
    accuracy on your hunting rifle doesn’t require you to register with the
    Department of State and pay a fee of $2,250.

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