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.