Trump Administration ITAR Move Could Boost Exports for Gun Manufacturers, Reduce Taxes for Gunsmiths

A TTAG reader writes:

One of President Obama’s last shots at the firearms community was the imposition of a huge financial tax on gunsmiths through a creative new interpretation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). As a result, you can’t even buy a chambering reamer today without registering with the Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and paying the $2,250 tax. And anyone who works on an ITAR-covered firearm is classified as a manufacturer and falls under the Obama order.

Today though, McLatchy’s Washington bureau is reporting that the Trump administration is about to help out:

U.S. gunmakers are on the verge of getting something they’ve wanted for a very long time: a streamlined process for exporting their handguns and rifles, including AR-15 assault-style weapons that have been the focus of national debate.

Under a long-awaited rule the Trump administration is expected to propose within weeks, a large number of commercially available rifles and handguns would move off a munitions list controlled by the State Department and onto a different one at the business-friendly Commerce Department.

The usual suspects will, of course, claim that the administration is doing the bidding of the big bad gun lobby.

Opponents of relaxing the export rules argue that decision could come back to haunt the United States if the weapons end up in the wrong hands. Gun manufacturers counter that the changes don’t eliminate regulation, but would let them conduct business overseas more easily.

“U.S. manufacturers are hamstrung by the overly restrictive license requirements under (current law),” said Michael Bazinet, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a lobbying and trade association for gun makers, based in Newtown, Ct. “Lengthy delays in the licensing process, and certain cases requiring congressional notification, cause U.S. firearm and ammunition exporters to lose business.”

And bureaucrats gotta bureaucratize . . .

Admittedly, any changes to the process are complicated to negotiate: The State Department must propose a new rule that eliminates some of the weapons on the U.S. Munitions List over which it has authority, and the Commerce Department must simultaneously draft new language to add those weapons to the Commerce Control List.

But while the relaxed restrictions are a plus, there’s there’s more here. Kevin Hall of McLatchy focuses on the export angle of this story, but the move could also let gunsmiths off the ITAR hook.

If working on sporting firearms is no longer considered manufacturing, thus falling under ITAR regulation, it stands to reason that ‘smiths would no longer need to register with DDTC under ITAR. And pay that $2,500 annual tax.

We’ll be watching to see how this is implemented.

comments

  1. avatar FedUp says:

    As a result, you can’t even buy a chambering reamer today without registering with the Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and paying the $2,250 tax.

    Really?
    Good thing I haven’t wanted to buy one in several years, but that defies belief.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      Read the (current) Regs for yourself. Particularly the over-large net the regs thrown around everything guns & ammo.
      https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/regulations_laws/itar.html

      Part 120 / Part 121 are egregiously over-encompassing.

      There’s a million Felons out there that likely don’t even know it, due to current ITAR regs.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        You can bet your ass the Leftists would *love* to get reloading classified as manufacturing and making it illegal without the $2,250 tax.

        Paid *annually*…

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          Reloading is classified as manufacturing, if you have intent to, or actually do, sell components or finished cartridges.

  2. avatar Bob says:

    Get ready for AR parts to be back-ordered for months.

  3. avatar Geoff PR says:

    This is good news for folks like Dyspeptic, but I fear the Leftists are just sitting there, making a list of regulations the next Leftist president can implement with a signature.

    Is there any way to ‘cement’ these changes, or does it require Congress on an individual basis?

    Otherwise, this is just going to end up as a perpetual back-and-forth-thing when Washington power shifts left-to-right?

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      “Is there any way to ‘cement’ these changes, or does it require Congress on an individual basis?”

      blood

    2. avatar neiowa says:

      Given that the progs can’t read/understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights. NO/

      Thus must ensure no more prog Presidents.

    3. avatar DaveP. says:

      That’s easy. Stop voting in the primaries for candidates who are willing to trade Federal judgeships to the Schumerites for votes on their pet projects; a bike path for someone’s hometown is for a few years but a judge is for life. Start demanding actual RESULTS on pro-gun laws, and not just another endless repetition of excuses for not preforming.
      And above all, make it clear to the state parties and the candidates themselves- the Rick Scotts of Florida, the Phil Scotts in Vermont- that not just actively signing on to , but simply not resisting antigun laws hard enough is a one-way ticket out of politics for them. Don’t accept “But if you don’t vote for me, the other guy will win!” if the other guy would have done the exact same thing. Make it clear that you are not reasonable and will not back down.

  4. avatar Jasper Wylde says:

    This doesn’t make sense… I just went to Brownell’s, found a .223 chambering reamer, added it to my cart and went to check out and I wasn’t asked for any information regarding ITAR. I guess this could refer to a Class 2 license holder? I’d figure they would have already paid their ITAR fees just to get the license.

    1. avatar Tom says:

      That’s because you weren’t buying it INTERNATIONALLY
      You also were not manufacturing and selling it to another nation.

      Nowhere did he say where the reamer was bought, not everyone reading TTAG lives in the US.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Read the Regs. I posted a link above.

        You don’t have to have an FFL to [have a] need to register with ITAR. You only have to have “intent” to perform some action (with respect to gunsmithing or ammunition manufacture) that constitutes “Manufacturing” and “selling”. Intent can be (found to be) “constructive”.

        AND NOTHING ABOUT IT NEEDS TO BE ABOUT IMPORT OR EXPORT.

        1. avatar Mad Max says:

          So what happens if I buy a reamer for myself or do gunsmithing for myself and not for commercial purposes?

          I think State would have quite a bit of difficulty enforcing ITAR against individuals that weren’t doing commercial work (which is all of us except professional gunsmiths).

        2. avatar Joe R. says:

          I can’t provide you with a legal opinion on that. I would say that you generally have increased potential to run afoul of ITAR any time a ‘defense item’ changes possession. That [might] would include you selling it to your trust or business, including making a capital contribution, with such items, to your company.

  5. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I wonder if it releases the ITAR requirement for ammunition manufacturers to pay the ITAR fee even if they do not export.

    It is what stopped me from setting up an ammo business.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      It’s gotta wipe out the filing requirement, not just the fee.

      Think about it – ATF Class 6 (Form 7) FFL to Manufacture = $35 (FOR 3 YEARS) + finger print cards and pictures and a relatively extensive set of disclosures and approval and site inspection process.

      ITAR = less intrusive registration process [FOR INFORMATION THAT THEY LIKELY CALL THE ATF&E TO CONFIRM] but $2,700 to $3,200 ANNUAL FEE.

      PLUS

      ITAR FILING IS REQUIRED IF YOU PROCESS USED BRASS FOR SALE, OR EVEN MAKE TOOLING (FOR SALE) TO MANUFACTURE AMMUNITION [EVEN IF SUCH EQUIPMENT / TOOLING HAS A [DUAL] PURPOSE OUTSIDE OF THE REALM OF AMMUNITION MANUFACTURE].

  6. avatar Bloving says:

    I’m not prepared to say Donnie has been the Greatest Gun President… none really have but Teddy Roosevelt came close…
    Still – it’s these little victories that fly under the radar that we may look back on in a couple of years and say “Well, I guess he wasn’t so bad”.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      You’re joking, right? After all the antigun crap he pulled not six weeks ago, and during the comment period for banning bump stocks (and anything that makes a gun shoot “too fast” per the AG) at Trump’s urging, which he’s already said he intends to wholly ignore regardless?

      Where’s that 2nd Amendment Coalition he put together during the election, again? This is a nice move, but it still doesn’t undo Obama’s last minute backstab to a significant degree.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        NONE of which has actually been implemented.

    2. avatar Specialist38 says:

      No……he is a tool. He will support the 2A only when he thinks he can WIN something.

      If the tide turns, he will (and has) throw gun owners under the bus.

      We need a Republican primary for the next election. The GOP need to start with a clean slate and not have the shit-show number of candidates like the last election.

      The GOP needs to remove Donnie-baby from the roster since he is obviously not a republican. Those dumbasses shouldnt have allowed him in last time.

      1. avatar barnbwt says:

        Hell, Donald’s performance thus far should have the Bush clan types looking longingly at someone like Cruz as a sober respite by comparison, even if they hate him. Maybe they won’t struggle so much against what is necessary this time. Though on non-gun issues Don still bats about a .300 which is pretty good for a Republican, that’s just because randomly flailing still hits more balls than balking at every pitch. That still isn’t an argument for random governance; it’s time we put someone with a plan & some brains in that chair.

      2. avatar neiowa says:

        38 obviously has not been involved in the process.

        NO other Rep candidate from 2016 would still be standing. I was an active Cruz backer in 16. Ted would have gone home crying by now. If you think the MSM/progs would have treated any Rep. President differently than Trump you’re crazy.

        1. avatar Mad Max says:

          Maybe Trump will be the bad cop and clear the way for someone like Cruz or Lee to be successful in the future.

          Here’s hoping.

        2. avatar Specialist38 says:

          I was there and involved. The GOP hierarchy didnt have the cods to limit the number of performers on stage. So the debates were a total shit-show.

          Jeb didnt bother to show up and obviously didnt want the job.

          The media obsession with Trump bolstered a non politician to beyond a household name. The GOP peed themselves and decided to allow Trump to enter themdebates and the party even though he is obviously not a republican nor does he have conservative views.

          So then everybody else tried to do somethjng to garner some ot the attention away from Trump. Rubio got red-faced and pissy. Cruz stayed the course well but was not willing to make statements provocative enough to even approach Trump.

          So Trump ran as populist and got the republican nomination because the GOP changed the requirement to be a republican to “someone who might beat Hillary”.

          So he beat Hillary ( which is a good thing), but he is not a republican. And now the Republican party has to start from scratch to build who they are and what they stand for. Trump only wants to “win” and will change his posiition in a heartbeat to be able to claim victory.

          Tell me what I missed Einstein.

          Kasich has shown his colors. Cruz is my pick as he has stayed consistent. Let’s get some groundrules established for the GOP primary now.

        3. avatar Jeff K says:

          I do not think that anybody except Trump could have beaten the Hideous Rotten Criminal; where would we be now?

  7. avatar tmm says:

    Ok.

    I’m still watching the left hand, though.

  8. avatar Defens says:

    If we’re streamlining import/export regulations, let’s pitch the 922(r) restrictions. I was getting plenty tired of throwing perfectly good hammers, sears, etc. into the junk box and having to replace them with crap TAPCO parts back when I was building AKs and FALs from kits. At least I bought mine before you also had to replace the freakin’ barrel – making a kit build about as expensive as buying a Century Arms angry-beaver-build.

    1. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

      “Defens” it sounds like you have a lot of knowledge, but most people aren’t getting any of it from you comment as it is currently written. Dyspeptic Gunsmith is smart too, and readers always understand exactly what he means…
      Readers shouldn’t have to look up your references to this 922 law, and we don’t know what you mean about throwing parts into the junk box, or why you did it, or why it related to kits, or why barrel replacement is necessary, or what “angry-beaver-build”means, or why it’s expensive.
      Sometimes, it’s helpful to direct readers to a good article that explains references you’re about to make. If that isn’t a good option for you, please rewrite everything in fleshed-out form.

      1. avatar Alex in Oregon says:

        I knew what he was talking about…….

        Does that make me a geek?

  9. avatar Gun Owning American says:

    Is this administration bipolar?

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Possible bipolar.

      That’s far superior to an administration that’s full depressive.

      1. avatar GunGal says:

        In my humble opinion The Donald is a businessman, not a politician. As a businessman, he is used to giving orders and having them obeyed without questions. He does listen to his son’s advice more than anyone else’s.
        Absolutely drives Liberals crazy especially Hillary and that’s a good thing!

  10. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    Mad Max asked:

    “So what happens if I buy a reamer for myself or do gunsmithing for myself and not for commercial purposes?”

    Under US commerce clause interpretation, Max’s reamer has no non-commercial purposes. The UN overlords need no such justification: Because we said. is kinda how they roll.

    In the US, the commerce clause has been interpreted decades since to allow regulation of a farmer growing his own grain for his own use. So, not a sale to anyone else, let alone state lines. His growing his own grain meant he would not be *buying* grain which would have a market effect across state lines, so … interstate commerce!

    This precedent has been used to justify the regulation of anydamnuse of anydamnthing that can, has been, or might be bought or sold by anydamnbody across state lines. There’s words I don’t undersand about having a cross-state market impact in some of the pronouncements. While I’m clear *your* product doesn’t have to cross state lines (or even leave your own hands) to be covered, some of it reads like *no product needs to cross state lines, for it to fall under interstate commerce.*

    In the UN, and increasingly the US “commerce” doesn’t mean trade, as in buying and selling, but any commercial, or commercial-ish activity, which as a broad rule of thumb means anything that isn’t completely public sector.

    Just another installment of People Who Couldn’t Play Sims If Their Life Depended On It, arranging the real world to their whim, because that’s “better.”

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