View Full Version : State Dept. eyeing ban on imports/exports

03-16-2009, 7:46 PM

by Dave Workman
Senior Editor

The State Department is apparently looking at ways to restrict the export and import of certain firearms and ammunition it considers to have a military purpose, and this apparently includes prohibitions on the export of bolt-action sporting rifles chambered in .308 Winchester.

Perhaps more ominous, according to Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the Obama Administration may be quietly preparing to define what constitutes a so-called sniper rifle.

While this effort would ostensibly be designed to prevent the export of such rifles to areas abroad where they might wind up in the hands of rogue governments or terrorist groups, the potential exists that anti-gunners could use the “sniper rifle” definition to launch new gun control initiatives in this country.

Keane did not suggest that this might occur, focusing instead on the fact that the import and export restrictions can be imposed without consent of Congress. Any domestic ban on such rifles would require congressional action, especially in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment.

However, Keane suggested that ratcheting down on imports and exports is “the first step” by the Obama White House and Clinton State Department to take action against the firearms industry. American gunmakers, including Savage, Remington, Winchester, Browning and Ruger, all do considerable overseas business with sporting rifles. Keane said there has already been one case of an American distributor being prevented from shipping three bolt-action hunting rifles chambered in .308 Winchester to Australia.

Reports of the impending crackdown first appeared in the Feb. 13 on-line edition of the Shooting Wire, which said Canadian officials have been quietly advised that the State Department “may be on the verge of cutting off all imports of certain calibers of ammunition.” Cartridges targeted by the alleged looming ban include the .50 BMG, 7.62x39mm, 7.62x51mm NATO, .308 Winchester, 5.56mm NATO and .223 Remington.

Shooting Wire also suggested that the ban might be expanded to include pistol cartridges including the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

Keane told Gun Week that sources in the industry have revealed that the State Department may also institute new requirements that include obtaining an “end use certificate” from the individual foreign buyer of an individual firearm on the use of the particular gun. This would require the American manufacturer to first obtain a certificate from a consumer in a foreign country about the use of a hunting rifle before the manufacturer or American distributor could obtain a license to export a particular gun.

The requirement would essentially be impossible to meet, because a manufacturer traditionally has no way of knowing who the retail buyer of a particular gun in another country might be, since firearms are exported to distributors, who then sell those guns to retailers, who in turn sell firearms to individual customers. It is almost identical to the way a firearm in America gets from the manufacturer to a consumer. It is typically not possible to determine who a buyer might be for a gun that is manufactured and shipped along the commercial chain months before someone buys it off a gun store rack.

While this effort right now appears aimed at curtailing foreign gun sales, it is the potential definition of a “sniper rifle” that could concern American gunowners. According to Keane, this definition will focus on barrel weight and diameter, caliber and even rifling twist.

Perhaps not coincidentally, rifles that could fall into the “sniper rifle” category are widely used by American sport shooters, hunters and competitors for everything from varmint hunting to benchrest shooting.

Such an effort would begin with an executive order cracking down on exports or imports of such firearms that would not require congressional attention, but could be used as a launch pad for a long-feared attack on “sniper rifles” in the United States. There has never been a detailed description of what constitutes a “sniper rifle.” Gun rights activists have long been concerned about possible legislation that would ultimately deem every scoped hunting rifle in America to be a “sniper rifle.”

Heavy-barrel bolt-action rifles designed to be used with telescopic sights are commonplace among varmint hunters. Likewise, benchrest shooters and other long range competitors use such rifles because of their inherent accuracy.

03-16-2009, 8:04 PM
Next, they will ban long range rifle scopes. You will be limited to 2x max.

03-16-2009, 11:59 PM
Only takes a Presidential Executive Order to ban the importation of firearms and/or ammunition.

03-17-2009, 12:14 AM
all that means is that you have to buy more long guns. C&R guns are always good too because it is cash and carry. :) wait..just buy more Garands!!!!

03-17-2009, 4:58 AM
Buy your Saigas now.

03-17-2009, 6:41 AM
Only takes a Presidential Executive Order to ban the importation of firearms and/or ammunition.

And post-Heller, it only takes a lawsuit to trim Sheik Obama's wings..

03-17-2009, 8:59 AM
Only takes a Presidential Executive Order to ban the importation of firearms and/or ammunition.

Yep, because we now have a socialist oligarchy rather than a free republic.

03-17-2009, 9:55 AM
The left learned from the '94 ban. That passing of that law alarmed too many people all at once, allowing the blue dogs and conservatives to use the ban as a campaign issue.

Now, it's by incrementalism, and out of the public's view as it is by agancy and presidential order rather than by a vote in a public place such as congress.