As our readers are aware, for almost a decade, I have blogged about the obligation of firearm and ammunition manufacturers to register with the Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Control (DDTC) under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which implement the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), as well as, DDTC’s stepped up enforcement against Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) starting in 2012. More recently, the DDTC issued guidance, which placed many gunsmiths out of business because it declared that most gunsmithing activities constituted manufacturing, which in turn required registration at a cost of $2,250, per year, in addition to the compliance costs. After years of requests that firearms and ammunition under Categories I, II and III of the U.S. Munitions List be moved over under the Department of Commerce, today the Department of State has published on its website proposed regulatory changes, which will afford a 45 day comment period, once formally published in the Federal Register. While the proposed changes are monumental, as described below, there are concerns regarding the proposed regulatory changes, which necessitate that those effected obtain competent counsel to timely file comments for DDTC’s consideration.
The 42 page proposal provides significant changes in that non-automatic and semi-automatic firearms and ammunition, as well as parts and defense services related thereto, that are currently regulated by Category I, II or III of the U.S. Munitions List will be moved over to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which are administered by the Department of Commerce and where there does not exist a registration requirement for the mere manufacture of controlled items, nor is there an annual fee (however, licensing requirements for exports will remain but under EAR). However, fully automatic firearms and ammunition for linked or beltfed firearms will remain under ITAR.
While the proposal is extremely beneficial for many FFLs and it is not surprising that fully automatic firearms are remaining under ITAR, for some unknown reason, silencers, all silencer parts and defense services related thereto, will will remain under ITAR (however, flash suppressors will be moved over under EAR). Additionally, magazine manufacturers that manufacture magazines that have a capacity in excess of 50 rounds must also continue to register under ITAR. This places a monumental burden on small and mid-sized silencer and magazine manufacturers, especially when one considers the compliance requirements and costs, beyond the yearly registration cost of $2,250.
If you or your company wants to file a comment requesting that DDTC consider moving silencers, large capacity magazines, or other items over under EAR, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG) to discuss your options, as FICG has a number of attorneys with the necessary experience and understanding of the issues surrounding Administrative Law, the Gun Control Act, the National Firearms Act, and the Arms Export Control Act to ensure that any comment is properly and thorough prepared.
For those interested in some of the comments that FICG has drafted and filed on behalf of Industry Members and itself in opposition to rulemaking by ATF, see:
Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.