Background

The federal government is shifting export controls for most commercially available firearms and ammunition from the State Department to the Commerce Department, the last step in a broad export control reform effort begun in 2011. The Bureau of Industry and Security notes that there is a significant worldwide market for these items in connection with civil and recreational activities and that these changes, which will be effective March 9, are designed to help U.S. companies be more competitive in that market.

A BIS final rule creates 17 new export control classification numbers on the Commerce Control List for articles that the president has determined no longer warrant control under U.S. Munitions List categories I (firearms, close assault weapons, and combat shotguns), II (guns and armament), and III (ammunition/ordnance). Concurrently, the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls has issued a final rule revising these USML categories to describe more precisely those types of such articles that will continue to be controlled on the USML.

BIS states that its rule does not deregulate the transferred items and that authorization will be required to export or reexport to any country a firearm or other weapon being moved from the USML to the CCL, including releases of related technology and software to foreign persons in the U.S. In addition, this rule will control certain software and technology capable of producing firearms when posted on the Internet under specified circumstances.

For more information on these changes, please contact export attorney Kristine Pirnia.

Practice Areas

ST&R: International Trade Law & Policy

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