No government really wants an unrestricted, heavily armed population, least of all the United States government. They have been trying to hinder the Second Amendment in every which way they can for decades, sometimes successfully. They’re always trying to find a new angle that will allow them to chip away at our ability to own and operate firearms.
The latest angle comes courtesy of the State Department, who last month decided to redefine gunsmithing as a “manufacturing” activity under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Essentially, gunsmiths will now have to register themselves as manufacturers under ITAR, regardless of whether or not they are considered manufacturers under the Gun Control Act of 1968. And once they’re registered, they’ll have to pay an annual fee of $2,250.
Of course, a gunsmith can avoid being called a manufacturer, if they’re willing to stop providing anything but the most basic of gunsmithing services. The new guidelines list several activities that are not considered manufacturing, such as “Occasional assembly of firearm parts and kits that do not require cutting, drilling, or machining,” and “Firearm repairs involving one-for-one drop-in replacement parts that do not require any cutting, drilling, or machining for installation.” So if you do anything more than change out a rifle barrel or replace a trigger group and the like, you’re a manufacturer.
Other guidelines are so vague, that it would be impossible for any gunsmith to know if they’re really a manufacturer.
The third activity is where the guidelines get strange: “Repairs involving replacement parts that do not improve the accuracy, caliber, or other aspects of firearm operation.” What is meant by these activities is confusing in several respects. While accuracy and “operation” of a firearm can be improved, improving caliber is subjective. Is a .45 an improvement over a 9 mm? Which is better between the 7.62×39 mm and the 300 Blackout? Maybe what is meant is any change in caliber, whether an improvement or not, but that is not what is stated…
…What changes to accuracy constitute manufacturing? Outside of barrel rifling, in most cases accuracy has more to do with the shooter, practice, and ammunition. Would sight replacement constitute manufacturing? Sights do not make the gun any more accurate, they only make it easier for the user to shoot more accurately…
…What are improvements “beyond its original capabilities? Would the addition of replacement night sights, fiber optic sights, red-dot sights, a scope, or a scope with greater magnification or better glass improve the accuracy or operation of the firearm? Again, sights and scopes do not affect the inherent accuracy of the gun, but they obviously improve the operation of the firearm.
This is so typical of a government bureaucracy. They love to make regulations confusing and vague, because these regulations have nothing to do with the safety or the well-being of the American people. They’re designed that way to make it easier for the government to oppress the American people. If the laws are numerous and vague, then technically everyone is a law-breaker. So if you do what the government tells you to, you’ll get a pass. If you don’t, the bureaucrats will always be able to find something to charge you with.
So this isn’t just about squeezing a few more dollars out of gunsmiths. They’re clearly trying set a precedent here, so that they may apply more onerous regulations in the future. It’s impossible to know what their endgame is, but if I were to guess, the government is trying to weed out smaller gunsmithing businesses, and in the future they’ll use more vague rules to weed out any gunsmiths that aren’t sufficiently pro-government.
After all, the last thing the government wants after they take away your guns, is a large population of angry and unemployed gunsmiths who know how to make guns.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.