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Though it seems like an esoteric matter that doesn’t affect most gun owners, a July 22 U.S. Department of State – Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) “guidance” memo purportedly means to clarify who is required under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to register as a “manufacturer” of “defense articles.” In reality, the “guidance” from DDTC looks more like an effort to potentially put hundreds or thousands of gunsmiths out of business because they can’t afford to pay the high annual $2,250 registration fee.
Simply put, the DDTC’s stance would force small manufacturers to pay $2,250 annually to register when they are not utilizing the DDTC export licensing system to export products.
The term “manufacture” as used in the AECA and ITAR is its ordinary dictionary definition. Clearly, many of the activities DDTC claims require registration constitutes gun smithing and is not manufacturing under any reasonable dictionary definition of the term. DDTC’s position is similar to claiming an auto mechanic who fixes your car is a car manufacturer. From the ATF, here’s their clarification of gunsmithing vs. manufacturing.
The law covers firearms and ammunition products (U.S. Munitions List Categories I – III), and, registration would be required even if the manufacturer does not export any firearms or firearms parts, and even if the manufacturer makes only component parts.
DDTC asserts that the guidance merely restates existing DDTC policy and interpretation of the AECA and ITAR manufacturer registration requirement.
To date, the Obama Administration has refused to publish and implement the regulatory changes necessary to transfer for export licensing of commercial and sporting firearms and ammunition products to the Department of Commerce from the Department of State.