The Court of International Trade ruled Feb. 16 that U.S. Customs and Border Protection properly classified illuminated gun sights as other non-electrical lamps and light fittings under HTSUS 9405.50.40 (6 percent duty). The plaintiff had argued for classification as apparatus based on the use of alpha, beta, or gamma radiation under HTSUS 9022.29.80 (duty-free).

The subject items illuminate aiming points in firearm sights the plaintiff manufactures. They include a hermetically-sealed glass capsule coated internally with zinc sulfide and filled with tritium gas. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that emits a beta radiation particle as it decays, and in these items the beta particle excites the zinc sulfide coating and causes it to emit a self-luminous glow.

The CIT ruled that the subject items are not an “apparatus.” Insofar as this term means “a collection of equipment,” the CIT noted that none of the items’ constituent parts constitutes “equipment” because no part, by itself, serves a particular function. The items also do not comprise “a complex device,” the court said, because “complex” is commonly defined as consisting of parts of elements not simply coordinated but also involved in various degrees of subordination, which is not the case here.

Instead, the CIT found that the subject items are classified as lamps, which are devices for producing light that can be constituted of any material and use any source of light, including beta radiation.

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