Calling Out Obama’s State Department

posted on September 8, 2016
Getty Images/Saul Loeb

Some issues are so bureaucratically insane that when you wade into their mess of regulations and penalties, you realize vividly why lobbyists are a critical self-defense mechanism against government ineptitude and malfeasance.

Then, when you realize while studying some specific case that the system isn’t insane, but instead is set up to harm some group of politically incorrect citizens or corporations, you understand that corporations and citizen groups such as the National Rifle Association have to defend themselves from intrusive regulations, taxes and sometimes full-on frontal attacks by government entities.

Although lobbyists sometimes get a bad name, lobbying isn’t inherently good or bad any more than free speech is inherently good or bad. It’s the First Amendment right to “petition the government” and to speak one’s mind that is good, and the loss of it that is bad.

That’s what your NRA is doing to correct a purposely insane situation in which a gunsmith who attaches a sight to a rifle might be told by the State Department, thanks to guidance from the Barack Obama administration, that he or she must register as a “manufacturer” and pay $2,250 every year to the State Department.

This is from an actual letter from the State Department to a small start-up company that makes gun safety products: “Section 38 of the Arms Exports Control Act (ACEA) and Section 722.1 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) require that persons in the business of manufacturing or exporting defense articles or defense services register with the Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance. … Failure to register with this Office constitutes a violation of the AECA and the ITAR and could result in civil and/or criminal penalties.”Although lobbyists sometimes get a bad name, lobbying isn’t inherently good or bad any more than free speech is inherently good or bad.

But wait, there’s more.

To correct this regulatory insanity of having the State Department threaten and place onerous burdens on “politically incorrect” firearm manufacturers and now even gunsmiths, NRA lobbyists have been working for “Export Control Reform.” This process, which the Obama administration has previously agreed to, moves oversight of America’s gun manufacturers and related businesses from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce.

To push this process along, and thanks to your NRA, pro-gun members of Congress responded to the Obama administration’s attempt at backdoor gun control through harsh State Department regulations with letters demanding corrective action. The letters demand that oversight of U.S. firearm makers be moved to the more business-friendly jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce.

The congressmen noted that the Export Control Reform initiative was originally intended to strengthen controls pertaining to America’s most sophisticated defense technologies while actually reducing unnecessary restrictions and regulations on less sensitive items such as civilian arms. If an American gunsmith’s work, or even the products from a centerfire rifle manufacturer, are our most sophisticated defense technologies, then our military is really in trouble.

Of course, what’s actually happening is that Obama’s anti-gun politics have put American-made guns and ammo last in line for reform.Of course, what’s actually happening is that Obama’s anti-gun politics have put American-made guns and ammo last in line for reform. Commonly owned rifles and shotguns, for example, remain among the last of the “munitions” categories to be amended and moved to the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce. As DDTC’s ECR website notes, the Obama administration has already reviewed such categories as “Toxological Agents,” “Spacecraft and Related Articles” and “Directed Energy Weapons.” Wouldn’t it have been easiest to deal with the much less state-of-the-art products that can be found in U.S. sporting goods stores first?

As the NRA notes: “To make matters worse, DDTC has been building the ‘higher walls’ on ITAR’s remaining items, meaning that the firearms and ammunition that remain under ITAR’s control will be even more stringently regulated than in the past.”

This bureaucratic attack from the Obama administration on gunsmiths and American manufacturers prompted pro-gun members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to send Secretary of State John Kerry letters expressing their concerns and demanding that the Obama administration complete the process of Export Control Reform. Dozens of senators and well over one hundred representatives signed the letters.

According to the letters, “the last thing [the affected small businesses] need is an edict from the federal government imposing crippling fees and requirements which are wholly unnecessary and nonsensical.”

Meanwhile, the NRA is working with industry representatives on corrective legislation, should the Obama administration drag its feet with necessary reforms.


Frank Miniter
Frank Miniter

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