Log In | Subscribe | | |

Guns: PoTUS says no.

Editorial Staff

A notice from the USA's Office of Business, Industry and Security (BIS) starts "Control of Firearms, Guns, Ammunition and Related Articles the President
Determines No" but the pleasure of reading that is lost when, on scrolling down, the unfortunate spacing in the notice reveals that it's an incomplete sentence and it goes on "Longer Warrant Control under the United States Munitions List (USML)." It's a proposal, published as a "Commerce proposed rule, Control of Firearms, Guns, Ammunition and Related Articles the President Determines No Longer Warrant Control under the United States Munitions List (USML) published in the Federal Register on 24 May, 2018." Far from the idea that Trump might be having second thoughts about gun control, he actually plans to arm the world with the very weapons that American nutcases use to massacre schoolchildren and others. Or does it?

This proposed rule describes how articles the President determines no longer warrant control under United States Munitions List (USML) Category I - Firearms, Close
Assault Weapons and Combat Shotguns; Category II - Guns and Armament; and Category III - Ammunition/Ordnance would be controlled under the Commerce Control List (CCL). This proposed rule is being published simultaneously with a proposed rule by the Department of State that would revise Categories I, II, and III of the USML to describe more precisely the articles warranting continued control on that list. Comments on this proposed rule must be received by BIS no later than 9 July, 2018.

That's the bald statement from the BIS. But, unusually for a government department, BIS has thought through the consequences of its announcement and the fact that many people will have a knee-jerk reaction to the click-bait headline. If the PR people had been kept away, the notice may have read a much more prosaic, and informative, "Control of the export of certain weapons is to be transferred from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce."

What the proposed rule does, in effect, is to remove an anomaly under which assault rifles and others have, for export purposes, been under the jurisdiction of "The State Department" which, is the USA's version of the UK's Foreign Office. State deals with a wide range of things but there has been a great deal of rationalisation of functions of government over the past 15 years and BIS is where trade control matters are handled. What the notice did not make clear, but which is obvious from attached documents, is that this is a purely administrative change. There is no relaxation of export control rules.

BIS has been clever, but not clever enough. It has produced a document, again sounding like a marketing document, called "Myths versus Facts" (actually, they have a capital letter for "versus" but we really can't bring ourselves to replicate that). Behind the marketing bollocks, it's an extremely informative document. But it's hidden away (https://www.bis.doc.gov/index....) in such a way that instead of ensuring people don't get the wrong impression, it has to dispel impressions that have already been formed.

That's dumb. Brilliant idea, excellent concept, stupidly executed.

So, just to clarify: despite what you may read elsewhere, from those that read only the headline and brief notice then express opinions, Trump is NOT planning to de-regulate the export of assault-rifles and related weapons and he is not planning to let US gun companies arm the world.

Unless they ask permission, which is exactly the same position as at present: if the Rule is adopted, they will just ask different people.