Gunsmiths around the country say they were blindsided by President Obama’s latest executive order that would make their trade qualify as manufacturing and therefore eligible for all the mandated regulations and fees that go along with that classification.
“When you have expanded the definition of manufacturing to include enhancements and the function of the weapon, you are basically opening the door to everything you do would make you a manufacturer,” Iowa gunsmith Mike Ware told The Daily Caller.
The president’s executive order, which Obama signed on July 22 — around the beginning of the Democratic National Convention — conveys to the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), which is primarily in charge of managing the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and establishing its rules, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
DDTC now names commercial gunsmiths as “manufacturers” for relatively simple tasks as threading a barrel or duplicating a small custom part for an older firearm.
Under the AECA, “manufactures” must register with DDTC at a high cost or risk criminal penalties.
“By their definition, loosely interpreted, you could say that you are a manufacturer,” Ware said, noting that making any sort of adjustment that can even make a hunting rifle more accurate could put a gunsmith “in jeopardy of getting fined going to jail or having his livelihood pulled, because he is some sort of felon or lawbreaker today when he wasn’t yesterday.”
The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action weighed in on the issue and said in a statement: “As with prior executive actions on guns, the administration released its dictate suddenly and without advance warning to or prior input from affected businesses, completely bypassing the normal formalities associated with a significant rulemaking. The guidance is also likely to result in more confusion than clarity and may significantly chill heretofore legal conduct associated with gunsmithing.”
According to Forbes, 15,615 gunsmiths are in the United States today, many of whom run small shops. Some say requiring a $2,250 annual fee will force these shops out of business and give less options for legal gun owners to find someone who can repair their firearms at an affordable price.
Ware explained, “Short version is this is discouraging to people in the business and a lot of people just direct [Federal Firearms License holders] to the Clinton years and just decide ‘the heck with it and I don’t want to deal with it anymore.’ So they fold up and go do something else change drastically what they do for a living so they can avoid this.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is currently lobbying Congress to step in and resolve the gunsmith issue, Forbes reports.
“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,” the NSSF said.