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Legally Armed: V22N8

By Johanna Reeves, Esq.

••• EXPORT CONTROLS UPDATE •••

U.S. Government Proposes Transitioning Certain Firearms and Ammunition from ITAR to EAR
(This is the first of a two-part series.)

On May 24, 2018, the U.S. Government announced its intent to transition most firearms and ammunition away from the export controls of the Department of State to those of the Department of Commerce. The cited reason for the change is to revise the scope of the Department of State’s jurisdiction to cover only those weapons or articles that are inherently for military use or that provide the United States with a critical military or intelligence advantage. All other items will transition to the Department of Commerce’s control.

As expected, the proposed rules have prompted a considerable amount of objection. Political adversaries to President Trump have accused the Administration of catering to the gun lobby with callous insensitivity to the brutal crimes inflicted on American society. Similarly, anti-gun groups such as the Giffords Law Center and others have spun the proposed transition as making it easier for weapons to flow because there will be little or no oversight into the activities of arms manufacturers and brokers of semi-automatic assault weapons.

Contrary to those opinions, the fact is the proposed transition rules are not a decontrol over the manufacture, transfer or export of firearms and ammunition. Indeed, the proposed changes are a shifting of oversight responsibility that is long overdue and will help strengthen the national security of the United States by ensuring that export licensing authorities can focus on reviewing proposed exports of items warranting stringent controls rather than waste resources on export licensing for springs and bolts or for items that are abundant throughout the world.

Indeed there will be many positive things that come out of the proposed transition for the firearms and ammunition industries. However, the changeover to a largely unfamiliar regulatory scheme will not be easy, as we have seen with the other defense sector industries that already have dealt with the “Export Control Reform” efforts of the Obama Administration.

This article is the first in a two-part series that will examine the...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N8 (October 2018)
and was posted online on August 24, 2018

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