Currently, U.S. firearms and ammunition manufacturers faced a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace due to inefficient Cold War-era export controls and held over Obama administration era directives.
As many of our industry readers will confirm the current red tape burden under the State Department has prevented many opportunities for American firearm manufacturers to compete overseas. The logical step, of moving authority to the Commerce Department and treating gun makers as standard business exports, has been long sought by small arms manufacturers as a way to boost sales and employ even more Americans. #MAGA
As expected mainstream media news outlets have spun the improvements as the “runaway arms trading.” With claims that American made guns would go straight to terrorist and evil dictators, and human rights will be cast aside. Never mentioning that the right to keep and bear arms is a human right, that the rest of the world should enjoy with well made American guns.
The proposed rules affect far-reaching changes in the way the U.S. Government controls the export of non-automatic and semi-automatic firearms, as well as their components and the ammunition they use.
Most significant changes that will be affected by the new rules include:
- Non-automatic and semi-automatic firearms that are currently controlled under Categories I or II of the ITAR will be controlled under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The same will apply to components for these firearms and the ammunition they use.
- Automatic firearms and their principal components will remain in ITAR Category I, as well as firearms designed to fire caseless ammunition and certain other firearms and firearms systems.
- Ammunition that is belted or linked (i.e., for automatic firearms) will remain in U.S.M.L. Category III. Ammunition for non-automatic and semi-automatic will move to the EAR.
- All the items moving from the ITAR to the EAR will continue to be subject to licensing requirements but under the EAR, not the ITAR. The EAR rules will contain “license exceptions” that will permit certain components and other items to be exported without a license, but there will be a “worldwide licensing requirement” for complete firearms.
- Services (known as “defense services” under the ITAR) relating to non-automatic and semi-automatic firearms and the other items that move to the EAR will no longer be export-controlled.
- Silencers and components will still be under ITAR.
- Manufacturers, exporters, gunsmiths and others who are currently required to register under the ITAR and pay a $2,250 registration fee but who have no involvement with the items that remain on the U.S.M.L. will no longer be required to register with DDTC or pay an annual fee. There is no registration fee under the EAR and no fee for an export license (in contrast to the $250/license fee under the ITAR.
AmmoLand News spoke with a U.S. Department of State spokesperson to get more facts and cut through the media scaremongering.
Firearms Exports Improvements What You Need to Know:
The National Security Council is working through the interagency process with the Departments of State, Commerce, Homeland Security, and other stakeholders to reexamine longstanding bureaucratic policies and regulatory procedures to ensure that U.S. industries have every advantage in the global marketplace, while at the same time ensuring the responsible export of arms.
In the latest step in this effort, the Departments of State and Commerce have submitted to the Office of the Federal Register proposed rules to amend Categories I, II and III of the U.S. Munitions List (USML) in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). These proposed rules will transfer oversight for export of some types of firearms, ammunition, and related items included in these categories from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce.
The rules are expected to be published in the Federal Register this week. There will be a 45-day period for public comments following publication. The publication and effective date of final rules will depend on the public comments received.
These proposed rules will be made open for public comment and may be subject to modifications, before issuing final rules in the Federal Register.
- Proposed State Dept Rule: https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/sys_attachment.do?sys_id=f3e8018edb0ed300c53a7d321f961963
- Proposed Commerce Department Rule: https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/sys_attachment.do?sys_id=67e8814edb0ed300c53a7d321f961949
- DDTC Announcement: https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/
- Commerce Department Announcement: https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php
What The Proposed Arms Export Rule Changes Do?
Under these proposed rules, firearms and related articles that are inherently for military end use or that are not otherwise widely available in retail outlets will remain under State Department export licensing controls.
Items that are widely available in retail outlets that are also currently regulated by the State Department authorities as set forth under Categories I, II and III of the U.S. Munitions List (USML) in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) will be subject to the new 500 series controls in Category 0 of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commerce Control List (CCL) in its Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which will remain subject to export licensing requirements, interagency review, and monitoring of commercial entities involved in export and sales.
What These Proposed Rules DO NOT Do
These proposed rules DO NOT have any impact on the ability of American citizens in the United States to exercise their second amendment rights. These proposed changes relate only to the export and temporary importation of some types of firearms and ammunition.
These proposed changes DO NOT decontrol exports of any firearms or ammunition. This proposed transfer of some items from the U.S. Department of State’s U.S. Munitions List (USML) in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), to the Department of Commerce’s Commerce Control List (CCL) in its Export Administration Regulations (EAR) will continue to require U.S. Government authorization, and exports will continue to be restricted where the risk of human rights abuses or illicit diversion are of concern.
Benefits of Proposed Rules
The proposed rules are the product of a larger effort since 2010 to modernize the U.S. export control regulations under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR), to create a simpler, more robust system that eases industry compliance, improves enforceability, and better protects America’s most sensitive technologies.
These changes will significantly reduce the regulatory burden on the U.S. commercial firearms and ammunition industry, promote American exports, and clarify the regulatory requirements for independent gunsmiths, while at the same time prioritizing national security controls and continuing our ability to restrict exports where human rights, illicit trafficking, and related issues may be of concern.
We anticipate that a number of firearms manufacturers, including many small businesses, that are currently required to register with the Department of State, will be relieved from an annual fee burden [and burdensome paper work] under this proposed rule. The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) does not have registration requirements or export licensing fees.
“These proposed rule changes are welcome developments.” says Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President for Government & Public Affairs, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
“They have been long been championed by the NSSF to reduce barriers for members of our industry to compete in international markets on a more level playing field. Transferring the export licensing of sporting and commercial firearm and ammunition products to Commerce from State will reduce administrative burdens on exporting manufactures and distributors and eliminate excessive annual fees on gunsmiths who never participate in the manufacture or export of firearms.”
“We are grateful to the Trump administration for reversing an anti-gun policy of the prior administration which had drafted similar export control rules but refused to implement them to in an apparent attempt to punish our industry. We are grateful to Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester as well as House Majority Whip Steve Scalise for their leadership in advance this initiative.”
Overall this move looks to be a positive change for a vital American manufacturing segment.