The Trump administration has finalized new rules that loosen export control regulations around small arms, something that’s been in the works for a couple of years now. We’ve written about the topic a number of times (see here, here, and here).
The new rules would shift various small arms and ammunition from the U.S. Munitions List, part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, to the Commerce Control List, bringing them under the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations, or EAR.
The ITAR governs defense-related exports, while the EAR controls “dual-use” items that can be used for either commercial or military purposes and has less strict export licensing requirements than the State Department’s rules.
The intent behind the rules is to allow the government to make better use of its limited export control resources and reduce procedural burdens and costs on U.S. firearms manufacturers, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.
The move also kills the punishing gunsmith tax that was imposed by the Obama Administration on almost every gunsmith in the country.
The NSSF released this statement in praise of the move:
The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, applauds the Trump administration’s posting for public inspection the final rules that modernize the export regulations for sporting and commercial firearms and ammunition products. The formal publication of the final rule is scheduled for Jan. 23. The rules will be implemented 45 days after formal publication.
President Donald Trump’s administration successfully completed the long-promised modernization of the export control regulations that began more than eight years ago under the prior administration, but which was never completed due to domestic gun control reasons.
“This is a tremendous achievement for the firearms and ammunition industry. We salute the Trump administration for modernizing our nation’s outdated Cold War era export controls and putting American manufacturers on an even playing field with their foreign competitors,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs and General Counsel. “This initiative will enable U.S. manufacturers to create more good-paying jobs in America while also helping to strengthen our national security.”
The rules issued today transfer export licensing of sporting and commercial firearms and ammunition products to the Commerce Department from the State Department. This change removes unnecessary and outdated regulations and allows the State to focus its export control resources on those items that give our warfighters a tactical advantage. It makes no sense to treat the commercial sale of hunting or target shooting rifles with the same level of scrutiny as nuclear weapons, tanks and fighter aircraft.
The new rules also eliminate a punitive annual $2,250 registration fee that gunsmiths and small companies who do not manufacture, nor export firearms or ammunition products were forced to pay.