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Freedom Fridays

April 13, 2018 - Keeping the U.S. Firearms Industry Globally Competitive



What does this regulation do?

The Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations limit the ability of American manufacturers of commercial and sporting firearms, ammunition, and accessories to do business with foreign nations. Under the regulations, these companies are required to gain permission from the U.S. State Department and, in cases of contracts over $1 million, directly from Congress before they are granted an export license. These burdensome regulations affect even small manufacturers and gunsmiths who have no intention of exporting their products, as they are required to register with the State Department and pay an annual fee of at least $2,250.


Why is this a problem?

The current regulatory process has put American manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage in the global market. The congressional approval process frequently leads to significant delays, which makes it increasingly difficult for companies to compete for contracts that have firm deadlines. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, American companies are losing out on an additional 15 to 20 percent increase in sales, inhibiting economic growth and job creation in the United States. Additionally, the guidance issued by the previous administration treats gunsmiths as “manufacturers” and subjects them to the $2,250 minimum annual fee, putting many out of business.    


What are we doing about it?

I joined over 140 members of the House of Representatives in sending a letter to then-Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Commerce Ross urging them to review these regulations and move the approval process for commercial and sporting, non-military firearms and products—those that have no national security implications—from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce. Doing so would allow these items to be more appropriately regulated under the Department of Commerce. It would provide a streamlined process that American businesses can rely on, while continuing to protect against the export of dual-use items on Categories I, II, and III to certain nations and groups. I look forward to the Trump Administration acting to amend these regulations.


What are they saying?

“Completing the Export Control Reform initiative is much needed and long overdue. The firearms industry was the only industry singled out of Export Control Reform process during the previous administration, purely for political reasons. It makes no sense having the Department of State, instead of Commerce, license for export bolt action .22 caliber single shot rifles used at Boy Scout camp. It diverts State Department resources from approving weapons that provide our soldiers a tactical advantage on the battlefield. In addition to the national security implications, these Cold War era export controls have been hurting U.S. businesses by giving foreign companies a competitive advantage over U.S. companies in the global marketplace.  Transitioning export licensing of commercial firearms, ammunition and optics to Commerce from State would enhance global competitiveness for U.S. firearms manufacturers and remove onerous regulations on gunsmiths.” – Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President  & General Counsel

“Current U.S. export regulation puts American companies at a disadvantage with foreign competitors. Enacting Export Control Reform will help to even the playing field, allowing US companies to more fairly compete on the world stage and keep American jobs stateside. The US has a rich manufacturing tradition and Export Control Reform will help ensure that tradition remains robust and competitive.” – Tom Taylor, Sig Sauer, Chief Marketing Officer & Executive Vice President, Commercial Sales

“Under the Obama administration, the ITAR regulations became one of the most-abused avenues for gun control.  First, the State Department altered ITAR regs to provide that the communication of how-to information over the Internet concerning certain Munitions-List firearms was a transaction requiring a $2,250 license.  Then, they went further, pushing the proposition that any non-cosmetic alteration of a Munitions List firearm (including a part replacement) was an alteration that required a license.  This gunsmithing prohibition, through regulatory fiat, represented one of the most abusive interpretations by the Obama administration -- an administration that was hardly loath to abuse authorities relating to the Second Amendment.”  – Michael Hammond, Legislative Counsel for Gun Owners of America

“This commonsense effort to change the regulatory process will alleviate stifling fees and burdensome red tape from businesses that support our Second Amendment rights but do not export and have no intention of exporting firearms. It’s an overdue fix to ensure federal  regulations don't stifle American companies, while ensuring that we prevent the sale of firearms to specific nations and groups.” – National Rifle Association