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Legally Armed: V22N2

By Teresa G. Ficaretta, Esq. & Johanna Reeves, Esq.

Manufacturing Ammunition in Compliance with Federal Law

Fortunately, the complex web of federal and state regulation of the domestic defense industry has not halted manufacture of products essential for national security. Indeed, there has been significant growth in the ammunition industry, due, in part, to shortages in certain calibers of small arms ammunition. Ammunition was largely deregulated under the 1986 amendments to the Gun Control Act of 1968. Nonetheless, there are still significant federal requirements for persons or businesses who wish to manufacture ammunition, including the federal explosives laws, the Arms Export Control Act, the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax and the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards. This article provides an overview of those requirements to assist industry members entering this growing segment of the defense industry.

1. Gun Control Act of 1968

The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), 18 U.S.C. Chapter 40, controls the manufacture, import, transport, transfer and possession of ammunition and ammunition components, such as cartridge cases, primers, bullets or propellant powder. In 1986, Congress passed the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA), which significantly amended the GCA. Included among the changes was removal of most of the controls over ammunition. However, there remain the following requirements and restrictions:

Licensing: Persons who engage in the business of manufacturing or importing ammunition must obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). No license is required for persons who only deal in ammunition. A license must be obtained for each site at which manufacturing will take place.

Prohibited Persons: The GCA lists several categories of persons prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing ammunition. This includes those convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, illegal aliens, unlawful drug users and those dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military.

Armor Piercing Ammunition: “Armor piercing ammunition” may be manufactured and imported only for sale to government agencies and in limited quantities for testing or experimentation. In addition, record keeping requirements apply to armor piercing ammunition but not to other types of ammunition.

Importation: Import requirements, including the Form...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N2 (February 2018)
and was posted online on December 22, 2017

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