Obama Hits Gunsmiths With Burdensome & Costly Registration Requirements

By Gary B. Wells, Attorney at Law

Gunsmith or Gun Manufacturer
Gunsmith or Gun Manufacturer?
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA –  -(Ammoland.com)- Because Congress has had a majority of firearm supporters over the last several years, the country has been spared the onslaught of federal bills infringing on the Second Amendment.

In response, the Obama Administration has written its own draconian “laws” by redefining terms, resulting in existing laws being applied to parties and transactions those laws were never intended to restrict.

International Traffic in Arms Regulations
International Traffic in Arms Regulations

These most recent of these efforts were issued July 22, 2016, by the Department of State as a “Guidance” on the “Applicability of the ITAR Registration Requirement to Firearms Manufacturers and Gunsmiths.”

This document involves redefining gunsmithing activities as “manufacturing” under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and requires many gunsmiths to register with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) and pay an annual fee beginning at $2,250.

The ITAR requirements are independent of how a licensee is licenced under the Gun Control Act (GCA). Just because a person or business is not licenced as a manufacturer under the GCA does not prevent it from being a manufacturer under ITAR. Nor is there any need to export or even intend to export anything to be subject to the export registration requirements.

This is improperly burdensome for manufacturers, but to extend this burden to gunsmiths who are not manufacturing “firearms” is unreasonable, if not absurd.

The DDTC deceptively attempts to minimize the drastic effects these requirements will have on gunsmiths by claiming that its definitions of “manufacturing” and “gunsmithing” are “the ordinary, contemporary, common meaning of the term[s].” However, if this were true, the activities of “gunsmithing” would be the same under the Gun Control Act and ITAR. They are not. Also, the confusing examples provided by the DDTC establish there is nothing ordinary, contemporary, or common is the Administration’s latest attack on firearms.

No Excuse That Gunsmith Has Nothing to Do with Exports

ITAR requires that “Any person who engages . . . in the business of manufacturing or exporting . . . is required to register with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.” In addition, “engaging in such a business requires only one occasion of manufacturing or exporting . . . A manufacturer who does not engage in exporting must nevertheless register.” (22 CFR § 122.1.) Consequently, a gunsmith who is ensnared into one act of “manufacturing” under the DDTC’s new definitions is required to register and pay the onerous fee, even though the gunsmith has no intention to and never does export a single item restricted under ITAR.

DDTC Ignores Congress and Skips Regulatory Process

If Congress wished to regulate gunsmithing activities under ITAR, it should first have to justify some connection with these activities to exporting and then specifically regulate those activities. Because it has not done so, the Administration had decided to fill the alleged “ordinary, contemporary, common” deficiency in the law. At a minimum, if the DDTC wished to suddenly regulate the activities of gunsmiths without Congressional authority, it should have pursued the process required for issuing proper regulations, including public and industry comment. It has not.

Guidance or Confusion? What Is Not “Manufacturing” for Gunsmiths?

A serious problem for gunsmiths under these guidelines is the practical impossibility of determining what activities are “manufacturing” and which are not. The determination is necessary before making an informed decision whether to avoid the registration requirement by not engaging in those activities or to register, pay the fee, and comply with the other burdensome regulations under ITAR. The “Consolidated Guidance” from the DDTC creates more confusion and questions than it does answers and exemplifies either a lack of understanding of gunsmithing activities or an effort to substantially impede on those activities without any justifiable cause.

Occasional Assembly and Drop-in Parts

The “guidance” lists eight activities that are not “manufacturing” under ITAR. The first activity is for the “Occasional assembly of firearm parts and kits that do not require cutting, drilling, or machining.” The second activity is for “Firearm repairs involving one-for-one drop-in replacement parts that do not require any cutting, drilling, or machining for installation.” Anyone working on firearms even without the experience and expertise of a gunsmith recognizes that assembly of parts and drop-in replacements do not always go smoothly, even with milspec parts. A gunsmith in the middle of a simple assembly or replacing a part must suddenly make a big decision if a hole isn’t not quite deep enough or there is material that needs to be machined slightly so a part can fit properly. Will one more hole being drilled this year be more than “occasional”?

What exactly does “one-for-one drop-in replacement parts” mean? Is this synonymous with “identical,” “similar to,” “similar in function to,” or some other definition? If the gunsmith replaces a magazine release or slide release with one that is extended, is that sufficiently different not to qualify as a “one-for-one” replacement?

Repairs Not Improving Accuracy, Caliber, or Other Operational Aspects

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. Would simply changing the caliber of a firearm, such as changing the barrel to convert a Glock 22 (.40 caliber) to shoot 9 mm ammunition, be excluded under the first two non-manufacturing activities (assuming no cutting, drilling, or machining is required), or is it still “manufacturing” for the sole reason the caliber was changed?

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. However, they do improve an aspect of firearm operation. Apparently, sights would not be an improvement as the DDTC has specifically added an activity that is not “manufacturing” under ITAR or “Machining new dovetails or drilling and tapping new holes for the installation of sights which do not improve the accuracy or operation of the firearm beyond its original capabilities.” 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.

Muzzle Brakes
Muzzle Brakes

What about adding a muzzle brake to improve follow-up shot accuracy? Does this make the firearm more accurate, or merely help the shooter control the recoil which is an improvement in the firearm’s operation? Apparently, this would not be an improvement because the DDTC has added another non-manufacturing activity for “Attachment of accessories to a completed firearm without drilling, cutting, or machining—such as attaching a scope, sling, or light to existing mounts or hooks, or attaching a flash suppressor, sound suppressor, muzzle brake, or similar item to a prethreaded muzzle.” However, the “machining or cutting of firearms, e.g., threading of muzzles or muzzle brake installation requiring machining, that results in an enhanced capability” is manufacturing.

(Oddly, many state “assault weapon” bans include as a prohibited feature a “flash suppressor,” but not a “muzzle break.” Other than legislature ignorance, what is so dangerous about a flash suppressor?)

Improvement of any “other aspect of firearm operation” sounds like a dangerous catch-all. It appears that a repair is not manufacturing so long as the repair does not improve the operation of firearm in any aspect over the original condition. There is a contrast between a “repair” and an “improvement.” A repair requires that something needs to be fixed. If the barrel is worn out and is replaced with a new barrel of the same caliber and no cutting, drilling, or machining is involved, accuracy will be improved. To make any sense, the improvement must be measured from what the weapon was before the part was worn or damaged. However, what if the new barrel is better than the manufacturer’s barrel, resulting in greater accuracy? This may include different rifling, a longer length, or better material. What if the new barrel has a different rifle twist so that it works better for lighter bullets, but not as well for heavier bullets? Is the installation of this new barrel covered by the first two activities? Or is this an disqualified because it is an “improvement” (third activity) and, because it is different, not a “one-for-one drop-in replacement part” (second activity)?

Ar15 Lower Parts
Would the instalation of parts like a magazine release or slide release constitute an improvement in an aspect of firearm operation? Ar15 Lower Parts : http://goo.gl/3vIMNu

Would the replacement of parts with an extended magazine release or slide release constitute an improvement in an aspect of firearm operation? Or does “firearm operation” related to something more fundamental such as trigger-pull weight? What if the gunsmith grinds or cuts an existing, or machines a new, ejector that causes the casing to eject more to the side of the firearm rather than back into the shooter’s face. The first activity would not apply if performed more than occasionally. It’s obviously not a drop-in part qualifying under the second activity. It does improve an “aspect of firearm operation,” so it may not be exempted under the third activity. It does seem to qualify, however, under a specific example of services that are manufacturing under ITAR: “The production of firearm parts (including, but not limited to, barrels, stocks, cylinders, breech mechanisms, triggers, silencers, or suppressors).”

Cosmetics and Ammunition

Other non-manufacturing activities are more obvious and consistent with Gun Control Act definitions of gunsmithing that are not manufacturing, including “Hydrographic paint or Cerakote application or bluing treatments for a firearm,” and “Cosmetic additions and alterations (including engraving) that do not improve the accuracy, caliber, or other aspects of firearm operation beyond its original capabilities.” Also, manual loading or reloading of ammunition of .50 caliber or smaller is not manufacturing, but the “systemized production of ammunition, including the automated loading or reloading of ammunition” is manufacturing.

What is Manufacturing for Gunsmiths?

In addition to the “systemized production” or “automated loading or reloading” of ammunition and machining or cutting of firearms as mentioned above, what other activities constitute “manufacturing” under ITAR? One example is the “Use of any special tooling or equipment upgrading in order to improve the capability of assembled or repaired firearms.” I’m sure gunsmiths could sit in their workrooms and look around at the special tools or equipment they commonly use and imagine all kinds of gunsmithing activities that would now constitute manufacturing.

Another overly-inclusive guideline of what activities constitute manufacturing is “The production of firearm parts (including, but not limited to, barrels, stocks, cylinders, breech mechanisms, triggers, silencers, or suppressors).” Would manufacturing a simple pin, plunger, pin, detent, or spring constitute “manufacturing”?

1/4-inch Allen screws
1/4-inch Allen screws : http://goo.gl/E0KAgL

What about companies who manufacture 1/4-inch Allen screws? Are they manufacturers under ITAR because this part is used to connect the pistol grip to the AR-15 pistol grip? Or does the part have to more unique and substantial? If so, how so? What about manufacturing a simple magazine release button?

Manufacturing now includes “Modifications to a firearm that change round capacity.” Does that mean that removing or modifying the restricting or limiting plug of a Mossberg 500 is manufacturing? What if an extended shotgun magazine tube is added? What if an opposite approach is taken to reduce the number of round a firearm may hold for hunting purposes. None of these simple procedures that require no special tools and can be performed by many non-gunsmiths should be considered “manufacturing.” What about changes to the magazine, but not the firearm itself? Or does the DDTS consider magazines a part of the firearm, in which case each magazine modified could constitute a separate “firearm” being “manufactured.”

The remaining three examples of “manufacturing” are generally more involved, including “Rechambering firearms through machining, cutting, or drilling; . . . Chambering, cutting, or threading barrel blanks; and . . . Blueprinting firearms by machining the barrel.”

Forced Registration?

These new ITAR registration requirements are severely prohibitive and/or costly for gunsmiths, poorly written and confusing, and place gunsmiths in an impossible position of not knowing what is and is not “manufacturing.” Similar to the January regulations that attempted to require anyone selling a firearm to be licensed as a dealer, it appears that the DDTC may be attempting by it confusing, inconsistent, and nonsensical guidelines to force all gunsmiths to register under ITAR to ensure they are not in violation.

DDTC Advisory Opinions

The DDTC guidelines do provide:

If, after careful review of this guidance, you are unsure as to whether you are required to register with DDTC, you may submit an advisory opinion request (see 22 CFR § 126.9) detailing exactly what you do or intend to do with regard to firearms and ammunition.

This request should be sent in hard copy (services like UPS or FedEx recommended for faster delivery) as indicated on our website: http://pmddtc.state.gov/about/contact_information.html.

However, the regulations explained, “These opinions are not binding on the Department of State, and may not be used in future matters before the Department. A request for an advisory opinion must be made in writing and must outline in detail the equipment, its usage, the security classification (if any) of the articles or related technical data, and the country or countries involved. An original and seven copies of the letter must be provided along with seven copies of suitable descriptive information concerning the defense article or defense service.”

More Information

Firearm Laws for Businesses and Their Customers
Firearm Laws for Businesses and Their Customers : http://tiny.cc/gu9gdy

Information about the registration process, compliance and record-keeping requirements, etc., under ITAR can be found in my book, Federal Firearm Laws for Businesses & Their Customers, Vol. 1: Federal Infringements, which can be purchased at http://firearmslaw.attorney/firearms-book/.

Gary B. Wells is licensed to practice law in the states of California and Texas. He provides a wide range of legal services for firearm businesses and owners.

Contact Information:
Gary B. Wells, Attorney at Law
6083 N. Figarden Dr., PMB #203
Fresno, CA 93722
[email protected]


  • 75 thoughts on “Obama Hits Gunsmiths With Burdensome & Costly Registration Requirements

    1. Freedom my ass! How is this all going to make us safe from crazy guy with the gun?
      To me it’s simple: there is no more money to steal to be on the top so let’s slow down business and create bigger gap between ruling elite and the society. And we “the people” of this freedom and democracy have to pay or we can go to russia. At least in Russia government admits to be a mob, instead peeing on our back and telling us that it’s raining!

    2. this is disturbing….Obama wants to sell weapons to other countries to carry on their dirty little wars without congress approval and yet he wants to extort money from law abiding gun owners/gunsmiths with out congress’s approval. Is he some sort of king of the world or the start of things to come? This is something to think about. I have said it before and I say again he is out to destroy our way of life as we know it, ‘I am not sure about Trump either. He is a pawn to get a traitor elected as president that is my thought [hope I am wrong].Either way I believe we are in for trouble deep trouble.

    3. With these new regs all it’s going to do is put gunsmiths out of buss. or raise prices for mods repairs ect. Causing gun owners to try and do there own I see a lot of unsafe weapons on the rise .

    4. These actions are unconstitutional and are examples of modern tyranny. The first thing we must all understand is that “executive orders” are not laws. A president can NOT arbitrarily make law! To do so is a violation of Article I, Sec. 1 of the U.S. Constitution that he has sworn to uphold and defend. This should be a felony and grounds for removal from office! Furthermore, even though these “new regulations” are NOT binding law that were an act of the legislature, they are illegal because they are a “bill of attainder” and “ex post facto Law”, both violations of Article 1, Sec. 8, Clause 3. This is because they regulate, persecute and criminalize the previously “lawful” actions of a specific group of people that make their livelihoods (or just earn extra money) in a certain profession (gunsmithing). Let’s not forget that the Constitution “gives” us nothing. It preserves the natural rights that we inherently possess and restricting the government’s actions of infringing upon them.

      Furthermore: We The People have the right to engage in commerce free from the government’s encroachment? The SCOTUS ruled in Murdock v. Pennsylvania (319 US 105) that: ‘A state (or the Fed.) may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.” Can we all agree that earning money to purchase what we need to sustain ourselves is a right and that the govt., by “chilling” that right and requiring us to purchase a license to do business is an unlawful action. And then if they do attempt to convert a right into a privilege, the SCOTUS ruled in Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham (373 US 262) that: ‘If the state does convert your right into a privilege by requiring that you obtain a license and pay a fee, that you can ignore the license and the fee and engage in that right with impunity.’ This brings me to the object of this post:

      Because Article VI, Clause 2 states that the U.S. Constitution and Stare Decisis (SCOTUS case law) is the supreme law of this republic; and that Marbury v. Madison (5 US 137) states that: ‘No provision of the U.S. Constitution is designed to be without effect and that any law that subverts its guarantees is a fiction of law and therefore null and void; and that since we can prove that these regulations (executive orders) are unconstitutional violations of Article I; and that we’ve chosen to ignore Barry’s unconstitutional dictates on those grounds; and because of that fact, the court can NOT prove “willful intent” (a needed element to be convicted of a serious crime) because we were simply following the supreme law and Stare Decisis, the court can NOT find us guilty of a breach of lawful conduct if we choose to ignore Barry‘s unconstitutional dictates.

      1. The Executive Branch issues orders to its agencies directing them in how to implement and enforce specific legislation. These orders are related to specific legislation already passed by a previous Congress and signed into law by previous presidents. Those laws, passed with the constitutional authority vested in the Congress, are referenced in the State Department directive letter. I’ve attached a copy for your review.


        1. Thanks for the info SkippingDog. I fully understand the constitutional role of the executive branch and the purpose for executive orders (EOs). But if any EO, or law for that matter, cause federal or state agencies, at the direction of the executive, to “chill” rights that are “secured” by the Constitution, which are the absolute guarantees that the Constitution was designed to protect, then under landmark Marbury precedent, those orders are unconstitutional and are therefore null and void fictions of law. The same is true of all statutes, codes, et.al. that originate in the legislature(s) and are then enacted by the executive branches of government if they do the same. This is because the Constitution is an iron-clad contract, in writing, between the government (those we hire to do our business) and the people (the beneficiaries of the contract) which forbids the government from infringing on the provisions of that contract. Since all Americans have the right to earn a living in the lawful field of their choice, any and all regulations that “chill” that right are unconstitutional. By forcing us to purchase a license, at an exorbitant fee, is simply a means of “chilling” the people’s right to engaging in the lawful gunsmithing profession. This fact also makes the GCA, formerly the NFA, that give this POTUS the authority to issue these EOs to his bureaucratic underlings (which you rightfully pointed out), unconstitutional fictions of law. Therefore, since these laws are unconstitutional, so are these EOs. That’s probably where I should’ve started in my previous post. Nevertheless, there is sufficient SCOTUS precedent (Stare Decisis) to nullify these EOs. And if someone wanted to spend the time and money, nullify the GCA and NFA also in the same process.

      2. Love what you wrote. The danger lies in the fact that the usurper in the White House has minions who do his bidding regardless and unheeding of Constitutional constraints. I wonder if FBI and BATFE agents beating on your door would cease and desist if you simply explained these points of law to them? I suggest folks read the wikipedia report on the Waco Siege of the Branch Davidians. It seems the government got a search warrant because they SUSPECTED the Davidians were modifying legally purchased firearms to make them fully automatic. The rest, as they say, is history. (No, I’m not a Branch Davidian and do not belong to a “cult.”)

        1. Thanks David. Your scenario would call for complete submission to the FBI, the ATF, or any law enforcement officer (LEO) for that matter if they were to beat down my door. Just as it would anytime a LEO stops and/or confronts me. To do otherwise is dangerous to one’s health and well-being because of all of the anti-cop sentiment out there these days. Because of that, they’re all on the razor’s edge and they do have the license to kill you if they feel threatened. Right or wrong, these days that’s true, so my advice to everyone is to simply be nice to them and comply with all of their orders, to the letter.
          After all, they’re just doing their job and many of them don’t even know the finer points of the law (The U.S. Constitution). Further, to everyone in their dealings with LEOs and the judicial system: know the law (the Constitution), be meek as a lamb, as wise as owl and then when the time presents itself in court – as ruthless as a grizzly bear protecting her young where your constitutional guarantees are concerned. Anytime one does to the contrary, he/she may not ever get to court to defend themselves of possibly unconstitutional charges. That is where Koresh and the Davidians screwed up. If they’d have all just surrendered, they may still be alive today. Oh, and as far as know, no illegal firearms were found at Mt. Carmel. (And no, I’m not a Branch Dividian either.)

    5. Why do we have all these guns if we’re just going to keep complying with every new rule they make up?
      How about we just say no?
      What are they gonna do about it if we do?


    7. I’ll probably catch a real blistering for what follows :
      1. I’m a registered Democrat , and a liberal one to boot .
      2. I own multiple firearms , handguns , rifles and shotguns .
      3. I have a CCW Permit , though such is not required to “carry concealed ” where I live .
      4. I compete in Benchrest and F-Class events .
      I’m horrified by the current attempt by POTUS to obfuscate the status of Gunsmiths , and fear greatly further intrusions on our Second Amendment Rights.
      Hopefully , the NRA/ILA, GOA, et al will act. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to ask (at the same time ) three Gunsmiths if they were aware of the issue at hand . THEY WERE NOT ! They’re too busy doing what they do ! Upon being appropriately advised, they stated intent to have their voices heard.
      PLEASE so advise all Gunsmiths you have any contact with about the threat to their profession !

      1. @David Gleim, It’s ok. Nobody’s perfect. The Democratic party has left you. It is no longer the same party it was thirty something years ago. Hopefully, this November you can move on and NOT vote for Hillary.

      2. Maybe you’re actually a “DINO?” I’m glad at least one of you has sense. BTW, who you voting for?

    8. General Gage was confiscating arms and munitions when he was stopped at the bridge, today, confiscators will do it one step at a time and nobody will resist..

    9. Obama has taken on the role of lawmaker. I guess the Legislative, Judicial and Executive parts of the government have ceased to exist. I was under the impression that the government was established this way to prevent abuse! Well, we now have abuse!
      The House and Senate are just trolls collecting a big paycheck since Obama seems to have the authority to do it all. They had better get on the stick and do their jobs! The United States is becoming a Dictatorship quickly. No longer is the Democratic process being followed and we are less than we were. I fear bad things in our nations future and I believe I detest Democrats and their blind faith and non-thinking mind set.

    10. If he can edit regulations and redefine terms, professionals also should do it. Instead of gunsmith, perhaps blacksmith or steel-smith or defense technician or on and on.

    11. I received an email about another area of confusion about the new requirements. What reloading is and is not manufacturing, i.e., is a progressive press manufacturing? Manual reloading would include any press where you are required to manually pull the handle, regardless of whether it is a single or progressive press. In contrast, a Comdex would be an automated loader. What I’m not sure of is what the DDTC means by “systemized production of ammunition.”

      Systemized production generally refers to a process of division of labor that Ford Motor Company became famous for starting. This would apply to even a single press as it requires a “systemized” approach, such as de-priming and forming a batch of cases, cleaning the cases, expanding the rim for the bullet, etc. However, the DDTC made clear that manual reloading was not manufacturing.

      Importantly, the ITAR registration requirements are for those in the business of gunsmithing, not the average person reloading ammunition for personal use. If not selling the ammunition, the Comdex reloader would not require ITAR registration (although I would be jealous).

      In context, it would seem that a “systemized production” would refer to an large-volume production approach for loading ammunition for commercial sale. In that case, they should have a Type 6 FFL.

      The question for a gunsmith who is loading/reloading ammunition for sale is determining the line between “manual reloading” [not manufacturing] and a “systemized production” [manufacturing]. Because “automated loading” is included as a form of a “systemized production,” there must be some production that is not automated, but still systemized. The only references I have found regarding “systemized production” refer to large automated systems, such as machining, fruit processing, and waste management. However, until this term is defined, I cannot provide a definitive answer.

    12. The obvious question now is what’s being done legislatively to address this issue. I’ve heard alot of comments but has an organized effort to reverse this action been initiated?

    13. Gunsmith = Gunfriend
      Friends do friends favors
      Friends give friends money
      Friends don’t sue each other
      If you don’t have any friends learn how to work on your own stuff

    14. I thrust my middle finger high into the air at this unvetted POTUS occupier and all his unlawful edicts. Kiss my ass Obama!


    16. Ok folks everyone here should get it by now the devilcrats view the bill of rights as well as the entire constitution as only an annoying obstacle .one that they want to eliminate (destroy)as fast as possible . It only gets in the way of their goal of total power ,a communistic dream of theirs .the devilcrats will stop at nothing to get this communistic dream of total power. Freedoms must be eliminated along with the constitution in their world!! They will stop at nothing.! God help us, save us from these evil anti american parasitic politicians!

    17. To the author, you may be in the 1% of good lawyers that the other 99% give a bad name to. Thank you for trying to give us some guidance as to what this administration is doing or trying to do. I hope this keeps someone out of trouble.

    18. I am one American who is sick and tired of this A-Hole pulling this crap. I don’t care if he has a title or not. He is a POS by definition and he needs to take his commie and muslim loving ideas to Hell where his type belongs. If any person votes for any DEMOCRAP (miss-spell is right) in November they should be deported. That includes some of these WEAK KNEED GOP IDIOTS LIKE mcconnell, ryan etc. The only difference between mcconnell and hillary is their name and I even question both of their sexual status. We need every American to vote to take America back and rid the nation of the morons currently in power.

    19. These things are being done to deliberately and directly screw with you, and completely destroy your rights, in any and all aspects, using any and all means, including unconstitutional laws. AND, suborning US laws to international laws by choice.

      It is time, if you were wondering.

      No one in Mordor on the Potomac, is your friend or is trying to prevent this, certainly within the legal system. It’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL, and yet here it is. They are no longer concerned with questions of constitutionality, they now just do what they want to.

    20. Don’t forget the potential for the onerous taxation of ammunition and gun purchases themselves. That may be more difficult, but not if the Republicans manage to give POTUS and the Congress back to the Democrats as they did in 2008 and 2006. We will be wrecked then.

    21. Note to Author , Thank You for taking the time to write this article. As we have a corrupt legal system, ever infringing upon us ,we need advocates to help us resist it . (Danny boy above doesnt get that.) I do.

    22. So, anyone that assembles an AR-15 lower/upper, makes an improvement to their pistol, bolt rifle, or shotgun is considered a Manufacturer? This is absurd and a show of complete ignorance. They (this Administration) say gun owners are Radicals, but it things like this that force individuals to stand up for themselves and not allow government to infringe upon their rights. Our country was created by Radicals wanting to escape tyranny and unjust laws. Those that forget history will encourage the same events to occur again .

      1. The regulations for manufacturers and gunsmiths apply to those in the business of manufacturing and gunsmithing. At least for now, individuals making, modifying, and repairing their own firearms for personal use are not required to register under ITAR.

        1. Two Hypotheticals:

          I have a Rossi 92 (Winchester lever action clone) in 357 Mag – ie, a cowboy gun. When I got it, it was rough. A friend (NOT a gunsmith, not in the business, but with much more experience than me) spent several hours smoothing burrs off the action. That’s “cutting” parts – but no parts were replaced.

          Case 2 – some years later, the same guy put in a “short stroke” kit. This is a new lever and internal parts that changes the angles between the bolt, lever and carrier, such that the full travel to eject and load a new round now requires about 20 degrees less travel on the lever. As I understand it, these “drop in” parts rarely do, and again some polishing/fitting was required.

          As I read in your article, it appears BOTH would now require my neighborly shade-tree cowboy action shooting gun “mechanic” (not registered as a smith under GCA) to go from “not really a gunsmith” to a full blown manufacturer!?!?

          1. Was your friend in the business of gunsmithing? A couple of factors to consider. Did he charge for his labor, or was he just helping. In that case, he wasn’t in the business. If he did charge, was this something he does for friends on a rear basis? If so, he’s not in the business.

            Part of the intent of my article was to point out what a mass of confusion the DDTC has created. They will place serious problems for gunsmiths and attorneys when it’s unclear what is and is not manufacturing.

            As to Case 1, I don’t see that it fits in any of the specific categories for not manufacturing or manufacturing. This is the problem with the limited, confusing, and contradictory samples provided by the DDTC. I would not consider smoothing the burrs off the action in the same manner as “cutting” into the firearm, which I would take as more significant such as shortening the barrel or stock. There was no assembly or new parts and I don’t think repairing the gun to the condition it should have been operated would be manufacturing. I can’t speak for the State Department, however.

            Case 2 may be more questionable. It really didn’t involve assembly of a firearm. The firearm already existed. From your description, I’m not sure if it was a repair. If it was, then the issue is to what extent common polishing/fitting would constitute “cutting, drilling, or machining.” Common sense would dictate that much more would be required before the activity would constitute manufacturing, but I’m not going to guarantee that attribute to the DDTC. The bigger concern is that, if it was a repair, it may have improved the firearm operation. But again, to what extent must a change improve the firearms’ operation before it is manufacturing. I can’t answer that.

            Please don’t take any of this as “legal advise.” I’m trying to go through the thought process each gunsmith is going to have to make for each job and how, in many cases, there probably is no concrete answer. Because of this, the whole DDTC “guidance” should be tossed and efforts to make gunsmiths “manufacturers” should be abandoned unless they qualify as a manufacturer under the GCA.

            1. Mr. Wells, I think that the mass of confusion the DDTC has created is exactly what they wanted. I call it contingency language to be interpreted any way they wish and make it as costly and burdensome as possible, i.e., you need a lawyer to fight it. I am a gunsmith because I work on guns. I also train individuals, friends or friends of, to do their own smithing, including building AR style rifles. I’m retired and I don’t charge for my services and the individuals are also taught how to buy parts, including NFA parts online and shipped to a dealer. Thanks for your article, a good heads up.

    23. So little time for Obama to cement his ‘Legacy’. That’s why we need to defeat Hillary Clinton. Vote Trump!

    24. As I previously tried to post: I would be more inclined to believe the letter of the above article if it were NOT:
      1. Written by a lawyer
      2. Advertising services of said lawyer
      3. Trying to sell a book

      1. @Danny Willard, You have a point about not trusting any attorney, with whom you do not have an attorney client relationship (and the attorneys that you do have such a relationship should not be trusted too much.) But Attorneys frequently write articles for the purpose of advertising their expertise. Attorney Wells is not atypical, and his writing an article is not a reason to discount him. Personally, I an glad that their are attorneys out their that are developing expertise in opposing the governments’ efforts to strangle our Second Amendment Civil Rights.

      2. not all lawyers are corrupt and greedy. Some are genuinely committed to informing the general public. Such a man has given years of his life and time to comprehending the arcana (deliberately increased to keep us normal folks ignroant and confused) of the laws. This guy appears to be on our side. I’ve also read a number of good books on firearms and related topics, a signficant number of them having been written by attorneus. Would I hire any of them for my own needs? Very unlikely. If I ever need an advocate in a gun related matter, I’d likely try and find one i my home state and county. This guy is elsewhere. If I had the spare change, I;d consider buying his book, too…. looks like a well written and well reasoned resource. It would sit will with the dozens of others in this category I already own.

    25. I’ve heard it said that liberals are ,”pussies” . Well I’d say that the biggest ,”pussies” are the establishment republicans, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for failing their oaths to “Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States “. All for fear of a mere word ! They have failed us over,and over again. IT won’t be forgotten . Trump says he will rescind all of Barry Soetoro ‘s executive orders . He has my vote . This administration belongs in prison .

      1. Aye ! Unfortunately, there are too many ‘smiths’ who will simply close up shop. Which is what the gun grabbers want. Shumer said a few yr. ago. ‘We`ll get rid of guns by attrition. Which translates into this latest from Obama. A dwindling supply of repair shops. Next, Extreme tax on firearms and ammo. The Communist`s mean to grab us by the balls and squeeze real hard. My oath back in 1966, did not have an expiration date. I disagree with liberals as a whole being pussies. When I put them on a bell curve, they`re like most groups. At the top, are those who know the true agenda. At the bottom, are those who can`t reason and need others to tell them what to think and do. In varying degrees, the others are followers,worker bees, and useful idiots. Liberalism has been proven to be a mental illness. For example they believe any who oppose them are mentally ill. Shades of Mao and his re-education camps.

    26. I would be more concerned if the article were NOT, 1. written by a lawyer, 2. more or less advertising his legal services, and 3. trying to sell a book he wrote.
      Commercialism with a possibility of deception in efforts to acquire personal gain.

      1. I’m not sure most would agree that the better source for legal advice is from a non-attorney. Once of the reasons for writing my book was to address the vast amount of misconceptions on gun forums written by well-meaning firearm owners. Relying on that advice would lead to a lot of potential felonies. Progressives have provided many traps for law-abiding gun owners that have no effect on decreasing violence. While the better approach is to elect government officials to eliminate these ridiculous laws, we must abide by them in the meantime. I want to see firearm businesses grow and more law-abiding individuals owning and being able to competently use firearms. Violating the law will only lead to the loss of firearm licenses and the loss of these rights.

        If a gunsmith chooses to engage in activities which requires it to register under ITAR, they will be subject to very complex set of regulations. There are many sources of obtaining the necessary information to ensure compliance with these laws, including my book.

        As for the aspect of commercialism, do you also ignore articles written by firearm manufacturers about their own products because they are just trying to make a sale? Do you believe that information is only valued if derived from altruistic, but non-professional, sources? Do you contend that capitalism it inherently bad because it can lead to deception and personal gain?

        1. @ Gary B. Wells, Don’t get sore, brother. On this forum, we work hard at engaging in a complete debate. Had Danny not implied that you may have a profit motive, then someone else would have. As to the articles written by firearms manufacturers about their own products, if they write about weight, number of rounds held, type of sights, or other verifiable information, then no I do not ignore the information. If, however, they talk about accuracy or fps, or other not immediately verifiable information, then yes I do ingore them. And regarding the legions of gun writers, who don’t have an obvious financial stake, I have learned to be skeptical. It is nice to have an author follow and participate in the debate. As I have not seen your comments here, prior to this, let me just say, “Welcome” and even though we know that your time is valuable, we hope to see more of your commentary.

        2. I will not use the services of any gun smith who is pussy enough to comply with this manure. I will not comply. If the wanna be men of this nation aren`t man enough to stand up that idiot in OUR White House by telling him NO ! Then We may as well get our Mao hats on order now.

    27. So what does this mean for those of us running firearm related websites publishing reviews, how-to articles and the like? According to the “Guidance” offered, under 3a it states anyone assisting a foreign person with the design, development or repair of a firearm would be required to register. So if someone from Canada or Australia or South Africa gets on my site and reads an article, does that constitute “assisting?” Isn’t such a mandate a violation of both Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech? Didn’t they try just that last year to silence the pro-gun crowd on the internet with the DDTC registration threat and even the ACLU said doing so would be an egregious violation of the 1st Amendment? A Google search of “DDTC + Executive Order” brings up a lot of results from June 2015.

      1. These are serious concerns that have not been fully resolved in the courts. Until then, the Department of State will continue to bully people with threats, fines, etc. One of the most important cases going through the court system was filed by Defense Distributed, the maker of the Ghost Gunner, after they were notified of a violation for posting information on their website on manufacturing the AR-15 using their Ghost Gunner. See https://defdist.org/ddvus/. (The government is concerned about 50+ year-old technology getting out into the world.) This is a classic area where even the liberals recognize that fundamental rights outside the 2nd Amendment are at stake.

    28. Somewhere I must have missed the part where I alter my own firearm without the help of a gunsmith. Am I expected to pay the fee to add a $35 part to my pistol?

        1. Yeah, I can see it now: teachers in school telling kindergarteners , “Ask your mommy or daddy if they own guns at home, then come in tomorrow and tell us their names and how many they have.” Just like in the USSR; everyone snitch on your family and friends.

      1. You may as well surrender now. Are there no men left to stand up against crap like this ? I WILL NOT COMPLY !

    29. Is this a back door attempt to ban AR15 build kits or parts kits to non registered gunsmiths, what about 80% receiver kits. or kits for the Glock or Tavor where parts including the barrel are changed to make it possible to shoot other calibers.
      How can any true American that loves this country support the democratic party whether they’re pro or anti gun. Almost everyone of the insurers under Obama care are broke but Obama is kicking that can down the road for the next president to worry about and has his attention on small business owners like gunsmiths.
      Obama is trying back door gun control because he knows if he is successful in cutting off our access to parts and gunsmith services at some point most guns will become useless. it’s not a stretch to see lower parts kits, or AR15 build kits or even parts to repair magazines regulated under these rules.
      Have you noticed at the same time Obama is militarizing all branches of government most foreign countries are quietly selling our debt. A economic black day is coming soon and the government is prepared to deal with its citizens with guns millions of rounds of hollow point ammunition but they don’t want the citizens able to defend themselves.
      Where’s the REPUBLICAN congress to cut off funding for this nonsense. I write my two congressman on the reason they don’t cut off funding for Obama to bring the refugees here to rape, rob and bring diseases that had been eridicated in this country back. My so called Republican congressional members including Tom Cotton who likes to display his military service In Iraq refuses to stand up against Obama.
      Get your parts kits now, stock up with spare barrels or other parts you might need just in case our worse fears come true and Hillary is elected through a corrupt system. Pray for this nation like you have never prayed, GOD is our only hope.

      1. @Frank, All true, but Oblabla does not know enough about firearms, the firearms industry, gun smithing or even what the general public is doing to come up with all this. So who is advising him? Who are traitors that are telling him what is going on and drafting his executive orders?

        1. Who is advising Obama? The southside chicago boy learned to read>>>>>
          Google this. The last paragraph is almost word for word:

          Law Gazette of the Reich Parti 1928
          Issued in Berlin, April 20, 1928

          No. 18

          Contents: Firearms and Ammunition Act. April 12,1928.
          page 143

          Firearms and Ammunition Act
          April 12,1928

          The Reichstag has passed the following Act, herewith announced with the agreement of the Reich Council:
          Parti General

          Part II Manufacture of Firearms and Ammunition
          (1) Anyone who manufactures, modifies or repairs firearms or ammunition on a professional basis must obtain a permit. The refilling of cartridges is considered to be equivalent to the manufacture of ammunition.

      2. Mr. Wells,
        I fear that Frank has an excellent point! Using an 80% kit is obviously “manufacturing” as specified above. If you equate anyone making their own gun as a manufacturer, they could potentially be covered under this “law” as well. Can you address this question as well?

        1. If it is for personal use, your are not a manufacturer because you are not in the business of manufacturing. If you are building and AR-15 from parts for profit and this is done more than “occasional[ly],” then you are not covered by the DDTC’s example of non-manufacturing activity. However, the guidelines do not specifically state that if you assemble these kits more than occasionally that you are a manufacturer. Did the DDTC mean to imply that you would be engaging in manufacturing, or is there a gray area between the list of activities NOT manufacturing and the list of activities that are manufacturing?
          If the DDTC intends that all gunsmiths adding parts kits to an AR-15 lower receiver for profit is manufacturing, this extension is unreasonable and needs to be corrected. The NSSF has issued a statement calling for legislative changes. http://www.nssfblog.com/ddtc-says-guidance-is-not-new-but-clarification/

          There are already restrictions in place under the GCA for manufacturing the lower receiver. It’s nonsense to now require extortionate fees to simply add parts to what the GCA already defines as a firearm. The DDTC examples are overly broad and make it impossible to know whether you are in compliance or not. How often is “occasional”? What if the gunsmith is only changing out the standard bolt release with a Phase 5 bolt release or replacing the standard pistol grip with a better one? Is this “assembly of firearms parts and kits” or is there some magical number of parts that have to be involved before the activity is an “assembly.” These vagueness arguments may help after being charged, but the DDTC’s guidelines clearly require registration for activity the State Dept. has no business regulating as manufacturing.

          This is a huge mess with more questions that answers. I cannot suggest that anyone ignore these guidelines or not comply. However, I would suggest gunsmiths take advantage of the DDTC’s advisory opinion requests and provide them with lengthy lists of all of the activities you perform or wish to perform as a gunsmith and request a response for each activity. This may lead to a follow up and correction once the DDTC has some input from the industry as they should have requested before releasing their guidelines. (Of course, if you have no plans on abiding by the law, don’t request an advisory opinion!)

      3. against foreign and domestic… black hawks arent bullet proof, those mraps carry 5-8ppl,meaning they have to leave the vehicle, meaning the vehicle stays unoccupied, meaning we can drove those things too, the gov swears we cant clutch and put up a good fight, french revolution all over again, red coats

      4. My friend, if we don`t stand together on this, and offer passive resistance by not complying, we are doomed. And I mean every ‘smith’, home workshop, etc. everyone. I want no pussy`s in my foxhole. Obama(if that`s his name), can not even get a security clearance himself to qualify for a janitor job in the White House. My offered proof ? Obama made a big deal over Obamacare, he stated he would get on it himself. He can`t. E-Verify was unable to verify his citizenship. If you were to go back to when Obama care was first passed, you should be able to find my statement is true. As for being an instigator of sorts. I`m not. You can ‘google’ my name and see just who I am. Complete with address, phone #, and current employment. I`m a nobody. Just a plain 69yr old barely HS grad with a part time job. I read alot, history mostly. Some Stalin,Mao, Hitler,some Lenin,Tolstoy, Jefferson,Franklin and many more. I recognize Communism, and have a profound hatred for it. Those who promote such crap are undeserving of any respect from me. So, call me what you will, I love my country and have deep respect for our Constitution. We absolutely must stand together and resist this nonsense that is Obama.

        1. For a “barely HS grad” you write very well (a few mistakes not worth mentioning) and you speak for many of us. Thanks.

    30. This “appointed one” did not get his anti-weapon bills pasted in Congress. SO! He is going about the regulation of weapons by interfering with the REPAIRERS of weapons.
      This “appointed one” who has NEVER been VETTED needs to be IMPEACHED and all of his “directives”, “memos”, “regulations” that try to run around Congress and the correct law making need to be THROWN OUT.


    32. By hook, or by crook!……

      The relentless attack on the 2nd Amendment, and the Rights granted by the 2nd Amendment, and subsequently all other Constitutional Rights, is coming to the forefront of the upcoming presidential election.

      There are those who insist ‘we’ be under control! Their control, in order to keep us safe from ourselves!

      Stay Safe…..Stay Armed…..Stay American……..!!!

      Hopefully, the pendulum of the socialist/progressive/communist movement has reached its’ furthest swing to the left in the United States. There appears to be a ‘common sense’ returning to more and more Americans concerning the future of the Nation, and its’ place in the world. Being the best, is an American ideal. Why should political ideologues, and academicians, tell us it is a bad thing?

      American ideals need to be brought back into schools!

      1. minor but critical correction… that peky Second Article of Ammendment GRANTS us nothing. It merely names a right we all have had since before the Constitution was written, then COMMANDS government at all levels to protect that right that preexists this country.

        If that Article of Ammendment “grants” us anything, then another one can take it away. This is NOT the case. Even if that old hag manages to resurrect a sufficient number of dead people to “elect” her, and then succeeds in “repealing the Second Ammendment” the right to arms will remain ours. We who make use of it may well pay a heavy price, but that is beside the point. That right always has been ours, and always will be.

    33. So this idiot thinks a gun repair person is a manufacturer, is a car mechanic a car manufacturer, is a Doctor a baby manufacturer, does an eye Doctor “MAKE” eyes ???????????????????????????????????
      what a complete moron this “fake” potus is, he needs to be in prison alongside the drunken dyke he’s pushing for his replacement !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Type 1 – Dealer in Firearms. A Type 1 FFL applies to dealers who sell or repair pistols, revolvers, rifles, and/or shotguns.

        Type 7 – Manufacturer of Firearms. A Type 7 FFL is required of any business or individual that manufactures any type of firearm, ammunition and/or ammunition components other than armor-piercing ammunition or destructive devices. It also allows the holder to be a firearms dealer as if they also held a Type 1 license.

        According to Gunsmithing article that I read, any Gunsmith that Rechambers a barrel to a different caliber or threads the end of a barrel to accept a muzzle brake or silencer or cuts off the end of a barrel is considered a Manufacturer and thus should have a Type 07 FFL and then would be subject to the $2,250 FEE…. Anyone with at different FFL type and doing the afore mentioned activities is already breaking the law…

        Here is a link to the actual ITAR document….


      2. I`m surprised by the tone of this article. It reads(to me) as if the author will comply if certain questions are resolved. I will not comply,under any circumstance. My work, my tools are mine and what I do with them,or not do with them is my concern. Not Obama`s(if that`s his name).

        1. That’s certainly your choice, but you’ll end up having your tools and accounts seized as evidence of a crime when the BATFE conducts an inspection of your license and shop, or when somebody tips them off about your activities. Then, you’ll be charged and probably convicted of federal firearms crimes, which means you’ll lose your right to ever possess a firearm again, once you’re eventually released from prison.

          1. @David Telliho, You have already testified against yourself. You have already given the government reasonable suspicion to focus on you. A little more research to see what guns parts and gunsmith items you have purchased, maybe a little satellite imagery, and a drive by and Viola they get themselves a warrant. If you are going to ignore the government, you must practice operational security (OPSEC).
            From what you have written, I can tell that you are not a criminal, not even an amateur criminal. You only wrote what you did because you were angry, and have no real intention but to follow the law, right? Ok, then… from now on be wary of new customers, watch for unmarked, late model plain jane Fords and Cheys parked near your shop that you have never seen before, and shut up.

            1. Whether it’s David or someone else, there are only a few ways for a gunsmith to generate business. One of the best is by word of mouth advertising. Everybody likes to show off their newest cool mod at the range or at the house. The gunsmith who did the work will inevitably be the topic of conversation, and you simply can’t always know who’s paying attention.

              There won’t be any OpSec because there’s no real way to operate an underground gunsmith business for any real length of time without discovery.

            2. Wild Bill, how do you know David Tellico is not a government agent trying to get others to say they will not obey the law. Do you think the only time cops pose as teenage girls is for perverts on the internet. Their working all these websites and they can track your IP address no matter what firewall you think you have. I know your just trying to look out for the guy but whose looking out for you?

            3. A gentleman a couple comments down from you,suggests i`m a plant. I`ve certainly ran a few off sites before. It`s true, I am angry, and if the rest of us gun ownners ,’smiths’, don`t start expressing the anger in a real meaningful way that even a politician might understand, we will all be in Fema camps or worse. You say for me to “shut up”. , That might be ,in the short term a wiser move. Long term,I don`t think so. I suggest swamping the legislatures with letters of protest,phone calls. Whatever peaceful means we have at hand. Alinsky, much as I dislike him, had great methods of protest…that worked. So, I offer Obama,if that`s his name, a language lesson. A bit of Vietnamese. Doom on you, Obama. And Sir, Communist`s deserve no respect.

            4. I don`t do gun repair. I`ve been asked to, & told folks I`m not able, don`t have proper tooling, etc. . One even asked me to make a silencer. Good Lord, hell no. Many a year ago, I worked for a ‘smith’. But, I refuse that type of work. Simply because of the paperwork, insurance,etc. As for satellite surveillance? The Gov. has been there done that. Also years ago. Capable of “seeing” thru walls and roofs. Hide your guns? Maybe under enough junk the satellite can`t recognize them. Other than that, we done been had. Our County Sheriff Deputies do regular drive bys anyway. I don`t mind. We`ve been robbed once(money).

            5. Pont well taken Wild Bill. Had a late model Chrysler visit the “Shop”, thirty ish guy. I offered a Government Discount, right away

          2. All a good gunsmith needs is a hammer and file to make tools or guns. Look at the Afgans they copy weapons in caves with out electricity.

          3. It may be a bit unfair of me to even comment on this. I don`t have any license. Nor do I buy or sell firearms. Any Government employee who might dare to enter my property, will be treated as unwelcome and should they persist, I`d fear for my life. I`ve had requests to build silencers. No way. Absolutely not. I do not alter, or manufacture for anyone. I forgot, I made a part for a friends lawnmower. Trouble with these village idiots, is that they can and will and have called a piece of pipe a silencer component, or a fender washer. If they want to get someone,they will. This is why I suggest passive resistance. Push back. I`ve worked in a gun shop, repairing,blueing. I`m far from an expert. I`ve seen fear in my bosses eyes over a Batf routine snoop. Eventho we both knew, nothing was wrong. It pissed me off.

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