NSSF is the trade association for America's firearms industry.
Our mission: To promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.
NSSF is the trade association for America's firearms industry.
Our mission: To promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.
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Export Control Reform

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Fact Sheet

U.S. Firearms Industry at Competitive Disadvantage in Global Marketplace

The U.S. export control regime is broken and hurts U.S. businesses, including members of the firearms and ammunition industry, by giving foreign companies a competitive advantage over U.S. companies. This is the widely held view of the entire export community, not merely members of our industry.

The Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Arms Trafficking Regulations (ITAR) require U.S. firearm and ammunition manufacturers and distributors to obtain a license from the U.S. Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) in order to export small arms and ammunition (Categories I, II and III of the U.S. Munitions List (USML). Additionally, the export of firearms over $1 million requires congressional notification which unduly delays license approvals for months, and in some cases even years.

Increasingly, U.S. firearms and ammunition manufacturers encounter requests for proposals (RFPs) containing contract provisions that prevent them from being able to even submit a bid (e.g. "designing out" clauses which require only non- USML parts). Foreign government contracts often contain provisions with delivery dates that U.S. companies are unable to meet due to delays in obtaining licenses from DDTC. It is not uncommon for RFPs to include provisions that make a failure to deliver product on time due to delays obtaining necessary export licenses a breach of contract resulting in the forfeiture of a performance bond. Such clauses it make it impossible for U.S. companies to bid on the contract. Foreign competitors have been able to successfully encourage these types of provisions to be included in the RFPs in order to gain a significant competitive advantage over U.S. companies.

White House Export Control Reform Efforts

President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and an interagency task force are leading the charge to reform our Nation's export control reform. The administration's National Export Initiative (NEI) objective of doubling U.S. exports within five years will require significant changes to the export control system. Critical to the success of this reform effort is improving the ability of U.S. companies to compete overseas, thereby creating jobs and contributing to the economic recovery of our economy, while simultaneously protecting our national security interests. The administration's export control reforms call for removing unnecessary restrictions, and instead, focusing export controls on our "crown jewels" by building "higher walls around a smaller yard."

Currently, our export control system is enforced by multiple agencies with overlapping and redundant authorities. These agencies use separate information technology (IT) systems and the export licensing process involves three independent licensing agencies which use two distinct control lists. This overly complicated and inefficient system burdens our economy and hinders U.S. exports, including exports by members of the firearms and ammunition industry.

The goals of the administration's export control reforms -- known as the "Four Singles" -- are to create a single control list, a single licensing agency, a single IT platform and a single enforcement agency. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry -- fully supports the goals of the administration's export control reform initiative.

A single IT system is already being tested, steps have been taken to coordinate enforcement activities leading eventually to a single enforcement agency, and the interagency task force is actively reviewing the USML and the Bureau of Industry and Security's (BIS) Commerce Control List (CCL) so that the two lists may be rationalized prior to being merged into one single control list. Consistent with building a "higher wall around a smaller yard," the list rationalization primarily involves consideration of moving items, chiefly dual-use items, from the USML to the CCL and decontrolling items having no national security implications.

Modernizing Export Controls for Firearms and Ammunition Products Creates Jobs

In reviewing the CCL and USML as part of the first of three phases to the administration's plan, firearms and ammunition (Category I, safari hunting rifles over .50 caliber from II and category III, with the exception of fully automatic firearms) should be moved from the USML to the CCL and be controlled by BIS. This will immediately improve our industry's ability to compete in an increasingly global marketplace. For instance, the export of sporting firearms to European distributors will not be subject to the USML's $1 million threshold congressional approval requirement. This change would not impair national security.

In phase two, as the two lists are harmonized in preparation for the merge into a single control list in phase three, the lists will be restructured into three tiers where the "crown jewels" (essentially "weapons of mass destruction") will be in tier one, the highest level of control. Nonautomatic small arms and ammunition products, such as those used by sportsmen and hunters, should be placed in tier three.

Minor spare parts (ITAR § 121.1 Cat 1(h)) which are not a major component of firearms (ITAR § 121.1 Cat 1(g)) should be decontrolled all together. Decontrolling minor component parts of firearms, such as screws and springs that are just as likely to appear in household appliances as they are in firearms and are available all over the world, lowers cost without adversely impacting national security. By continuing to control the major component parts (i.e. critical parts such as barrels, cylinders, receivers/frames, complete breech mechanisms), the original purchases by foreign entities will be controlled while spare parts for firearms, even those not originally sold by American companies, will easily be supplied by America.

The appropriate level of controls we urge the administration and Congress to impose on small arms and ammunition products is entirely consistent with President Obama's call to build "higher walls around a smaller yard." Small arms and ammunition products are available on the world market from foreign competitors. These reforms are vital if U.S. companies in our industry are to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Growing U.S. exports by members of our industry will create jobs here in America.


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