More 1st and 2nd amendment infringement…
I have sort of a love/hate relationship with the NRA. They obviously are the #1 advocate for firearms / ammunition freedom in the country, but their interpretation of that state dept. issue is borderline scare-mongering. Their justification of course, is that in the past certain laws have in fact been passed which people had thought were otherwise absurd & un-passable when they were in the early stages. But to suggest a first-amendment infringement of this degree seems preposterous. When I think of all of the crazy information online in so far as explosive-making, recipes for making Methamphetamine, and how to grow marijuana… etc, etc… (all legal information) it seems odd that the State Dept. would ever have the gal to go after blogs or forums talking about the technical parameters of small arms ammunition, especially in the historical / collector sense.
Never underestimate the overly broad language that can be written in legislation, imposed by agency “rules” interpreting the laws, or twisted by bureaucrats and enforcers. Seemingly benign and well intentioned ideas can, and have, become law and infringe on our rights, and have even been upheld by courts when no one thought they would be.
Throw in the well known and repeated anti-gun (and ammunition) goals of Obama and his cronies, pushed by wealthy and powerful media and backers like millionaires Bloomberg and Soros, and the chances of having bad laws pass go up astronomically.
The best defense against such over reach is prompt and massive push back by gun (and ammunition) owners so that Congress will not be interested in passing anything remotely resembling what is asked for.
For several decades, gun rights were incrementally eroded, one small step at a time by repeated “compromises” to avoid even worse laws. It is time to fight back and refuse to accept any such deal. Thankfully, gun (and ammunition) advocates have been fighting back for the last 10-15 years, and incrementally regaining small bits our our rights back again.
Ammunition collectors can be sure, and Obama’s cronies have already stated, that they see banning ammunition as one backdoor step to gun control. Everyone who owns, uses or collects guns or ammunition needs to jump into the battle now to protect all our rights. No more standing aside and watching because it is not our specific niche being targeted.
“At first I did nothing when they came for the [type of guns or ammo]…”
Ask our California collectors about tracer or incendiary rounds, or our UK friends about soft nose bullets.
Some gun rights groups are chronically alarmist and tend to exaggerate, but the NRA is usually on solid ground when they issue a warning.
Every cartridge collector should be a member of the NRA.
Unfortunately the NRA’s incessant fearmongering and unending solicitations for contributions have turned many people away.
Technology and information technology are advancing faster than government can keep up with. Their efforts to regulate access to information, ammunition or otherwise, will fall short.
I have to agree with AKMS. Even if the government wanted to do the what the NRA is proposing what they might do, it would be impossible. To “go after the internet” basically, would be impossible as far as discussion groups. I would tend to worry about the IAA’s non-profit status perhaps, but then just in the past year I have witnessed the Facebook discussion group “Vintage Antique Ammo Collectors” amass 2300+ members out of thin air, with only a couple dozen of them being IAA members. So silencing ammo/gun discussion seems folly. I can only just imagine the sort of vitriolic response an enforcement attempt like this would get from most of the gun forums out there with their seemingly wild-west tones.
They must be suggesting a reference to certain privileged technology such as radar, stealth, guidance, tank penetrators, etc… especially of a new / experimental nature. That type of top-secret info protection seems prudent, and they might be trying to write an overly broad definition so as to provide for ease of enforcement, but enforcement, as is the case with BATFE enforcement, depends entirely on the administration in the white house, and which administrators are in charge from the Treasury sec. on down.
While not being into the US law I still would wonder if such a thing (as in that news entry above) could really happen in the US.
As pointed out above the implementation will be almost impossible. If so what will be the consequence? That the IAA forum will shift the server to a new URL location like IAA.nk - and all others will follow? And what then? Nothing achieved at all!
As if all those terrorists are getting their info on bomb making and arms manipulation from the US web. Seems those wannabe law makers are dreaming, are clueless and do heavily suffer from almightiness (things which seem to qualify a politician).
And how should someone define what info is allowed and what not? Will manufacturers be allowed to give data on their guns and ammo anymore? Will research and publications in the web be forbidden then? Will anybody be able to tell what info on something was correct and is sowith “forbidden” and wrong one will be still allowed as it must be considered legal? Who will check this? Will they employ gazillions of technical experts (and we all know already that most of them will be none) looking at the web all day long?
And what will make all this any different from data in printed books which are readily available?
After all this sounds much like the infringement of the basic rights of any citizen.
Sorry for stating from outside the system and probably not knowing about the whole situ in the US. If there was anything inappropriate an admin please wipe it off.
I truely doubt that the Republican held House and Senate would allow this type of legislation to pass, let alone be allowed to stand by the SCOTUS.
As I understand it, POTUS is not proposing legislation. He is proposing regulations in order to bypass the legislative process.
It can’t happen here? Of course it can. Those of us who have been here for our allotted four-score can testify that anything is possible.
It seems like they are trying this in the UK as well. Internet censorship laws were bought in here in the last few years. Officially, their purpose was to stop children being exposed to adult material. However, it seems that firearms information was also quietly included in the list of topics that are censored in certain circumstances.
A retired engineer who worked in the ammunition manufacturing industery had this to say about this, in a letter to me.
“We must get our legislators working to stop this. I haven’t been able to fully research this yet but strongly suspect it is a misapplication of The International Trafficking of Arms Regulations (ITAR). The original ITAR laws were drafted in the 60’s or 70’s or maybe even the 80’s and totally forgotten until 9-11. Then folks wanted to cut off ammunition technology going to terrorists. You would not believe the extent of ITAR. Every country outside the U.S. (Including Canada, England, etc.) is treated the same and assumed to be enemy. Larry Potterfield at Midway USA almost went to jail for selling scope mounts to someone overseas without State Department approval. The last couple of years at work I couldn’t send an technical performance spec sheet to the Royal Canadian Mounted police related to an ammo solicitation. Any technical data or information about guns and ammo or even remotely related can not be passed to someone off shore without State Department permission. Anything posted on a blog, internet forum or website may be considered available to the terrorists world wide if this thing is implemented. The IAA forum could be shut down.”
My personal thoughts on this is that all our president has to do is sign this executive order, and regardless whether or not a bureaucracy is in place to monitor our / any discussion no matter how historical, or technical or about old or new technology, or whatever facet of ammunition is being discussed, it would be against the law, and the principals in the discussion and the IAA forum are then guilty breaking the law. Unless, of course this discussion has gone through these proposed hoops to be blessed by someone who very likely has no idea about what is being discussed and very likely the wheel would have been reinvented by the time a reply was approved or not approved in total ignorance of the discussion.
So all it would take is one monitor to call one law enforcement officer and we are shut down, broke & perhaps even visiting / living in the house of many doors. They don’t need a bureaucracy to monitor this just one person to observe this “law” being broken. It could even be someone who feels wronged, is crazy, or is just plain anti-gun, it wouldn’t even have to be some government worker charged with monitoring forums, blogs, boards & etc.
Yes there would be a great hue & cry raised by hunters, gun and ammunition collectors and perhaps even by the ACLU and others, and yes it could go to the Supreme Court (or some other court) for a ruling on this, BUT how long does that take ? If I was the guy who bypassed this imperial excuse me, executive order & got famous for being the test case, I would not be a happy camper.
Great post Pete!
There have been times when I have posted spec sheets for different ammunition types on one of the shooting forums. I can see where this could get someone in hot water, shutting down the Forum and prosecuting some poor likeable guy, like me. I am too pretty to go to Leavenworth so I won’t be doing stuff like that any more.
Just when you think there is nothing more they can do to us, along comes something like this. I know that they’ll play it as, “Don’t worry, it’s only aimed at terrorists.” but how many times have we heard that before.
I think I’ll start collecting different types, colors, and textures of toilet paper. That should be safe. Plus my collection will always have a practical use when everything turns to shxx.
The bad guys intent on shutting down ammo discussions may not even need to go after individual sites. All they need to do is let one of the internet service providers (the guys who host sites) know that “nice little business you got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it because you got ammo stuff on some of them.” and in a matter of days hundreds of sites would be dumped, and other providers would get the message too.
Look at eBay and their diktats on guns and ammo. Just think what sites would do with just a little push from the bureaucracy in the BATFE, FCC, State, Customs, etc. If anyone wants to fight the feds, remember, we have already paid for as many lawyers as they want to use, while the accused can run up legal fees in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars range and may still lose. It is not enough to be right, you still have to win!
This is doubly hard to do fighting “regulations” as opposed to “laws.”
It seems George Orwell was a wise man back in 1948…
More on the ITAR regs mentioned in my previous post.
Below is a brief synopsis of “Technical data” and “The United States munitions list” that are a small part of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Almost any information related to firearms and ammunition can be construed by government lawyers to fall under these classifications. All test data, even such mundane information as comparative accuracy results, velocity measurements, etc. is subject to ITAR. The subject is extremely lengthy and complex. A common lawyer’s analysis is not adequate to determine compliance or non compliance. Only the government can determine whether or not you have complied. Penalties are severe.
"§ 120.10 – Technical data.
Technical data means, for purposes of this subchapter:
(1) Information, other than software as defined in § 120.10(d), which is required for the design development, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, repair, testing, maintenance or modification of defense articles. This includes information in the form of blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, instructions and documentation.
(2) Classified information relating to defense articles and defense services;
(3) Information covered by an invention secrecy order;
(4) Software as defined in § 121.8(f) of this subchapter directly related to defense articles;
(5) This definition does not include information concerning general scientific, mathematical or engineering principles commonly taught in schools, colleges and universities or information in the public domain as defined in § 120.11. It also does not include basic marketing information on function or purpose or general system descriptions of defense articles.
§ 121.1 – General. The United States munitions list.
(a) The following articles, services and related technical data are designated as defense articles and defense services pursuant to sections 38 and 47(7) of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2778 and 2794(7)). Changes in designations will be published in the Federal Register. Information and clarifications on whether specific items are defense articles and services under this subchapter may appear periodically in the Defense Trade News published by the Center for Defense Trade.
(b) Significant military equipment: An asterisk precedes certain defense articles in the following list. The asterisk means that the article is deemed to be “significant military equipment” to the extent specified in § 120.19. The asterisk is placed as a convenience to help identify such articles.
© Certain items in the following list are placed in brackets. The brackets mean that the item is (1) scheduled to be moved to the licensing jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce upon establishment of a foreign policy control or (2) in the case of spacecraft and related equipment, the item is under review by an interagency space technical working group. The interagency review will result in a recommendation as to whether an item should be moved to the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce or to USML category XV which was established for this purpose.
(d) Missile Technology Control Regime Annex (MTCR). Certain defense articles and services are identified in § 121.16 as being on the list of MTCR Annex items on the United States Munitions List. These are articles as specified in § 120.29 of this subchapter and appear on the list at § 121.16.
*(a) Nonautomatic, semi-automatic and fully automatic firearms to caliber .50 inclusive, and all components and parts for such firearms. (See § 121.9 and §§ 123.16-123.19 of this subchapter.)
(b) Riflescopes manufactured to military specifications, and specifically designed or modified components therefor; firearm silencers and suppressors, including flash suppressors.
*(c) Insurgency-counterinsurgency type firearms or other weapons having a special military application (e.g. close assault weapons systems) regardless of caliber and all components and parts therefor.
(d) Technical data (as defined in § 120.21 of this subchapter) and defense services (as defined in § 120.8 of this subchapter) directly related to the defense articles enumerated in paragraphs (a) through © of this category. (See § 125.4 of this subchapter for exemptions.) Technical data directly related to the manufacture or production of any defense articles enumerated elsewhere in this category that are designated as Significant Military Equipment (SME) shall itself be designated SME.
Category II-Artillery Projectors
*(a) Guns over caliber .50, howitzers, mortars, and recoilless rifles. *(b) Military flamethrowers and projectors.
© Components, parts, accessories and attachments for the articles in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this category, including but not limited to mounts and carriages for these articles.
(d) Technical data (as defined in 120.21 of this subchapter) and defense services (as defined in § 120.8 of this subchapter) directly related to the defense articles enumerated in paragraphs (a) through © of this category. (See § 125.4 of this subchapter for exemptions.) Technical data directly related to the manufacture or production of any defense articles enumerated elsewhere in this category that are designated as Significant Military Equipment (SME) shall itself be designated SME.
*(a) Ammunition for the arms in Categories I and II of this section. (See § 121.6.)
(b) Components, parts, accessories, and attachments for articles in paragraph (a) of this category, including but not limited to cartridge cases, powder bags, bullets, jackets, cores, shells (excluding shotgun shells), projectiles, boosters, fuzes and components therefor, primers, and other detonating devices for such ammunition. (See § 121.6.)
© Ammunition belting and linking machines.
*(d) Ammunition manufacturing machines and ammunition loading machines (except handloading ones).
(e) Technical data (as defined in § 120.21 of this subchapter) and defense services (as defined in § 120.8 of this subchapter) directly related to the defense articles enumerated in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this category. (See § 125.4 of this subchapter for exemptions.) Technical data directly related to the manufacture or production of any defense articles enumerated elsewhere in this category that are designated as Significant Military Equipment (SME) shall itself be designated SME.
Edited once to add That there is probably something in this reg., but not stated here, that makes it illegal to talk / post about this ITAR regulation, so yes Alex your 100% correct.
To be honest, I don’t think it would take a lot of twisting to use the “§ 120.09 - Defense Service” definitions against most of us.
I would always advise from a British perspective that the greater danger is ‘Legislation Creep’ over time a regulation grows into something bigger simply because it it vaguely worded and the little guys in little offices can over interpret its meaning.
Its not just gun related, over here the anti terrorist laws were used to check up on what people were putting in their trash. The people doing it weren’t anti terrorist forces, it was the local Cleansing Dept’s recyling bozos looking for cadmium torch batteries and the like. The law ‘supposedly’ gave them the right to enter your property and search and they invoked it.
It was badly worded legislation because I very much doubt that the law makers who made that law intended it to be used by people like that or for those purposes. But the law didn’t specifically exclude the local Cleansing Dept so they took it as given.
Look a the discussions that take place on here about postal services, its all driven by uncertainty.
People on UK forums talk of being blocked by in house WiFi in some hotels and similar places
More on this from the Washington Examiner.
It would seem that this is going to require that IAA would have to pay the $2,500/year plus get State Dept. approval for each post covered under ITAR. Bye bye forum if this proposal is allowed to stand.
BY PAUL BEDARD | JUNE 7, 2015 | 10:10 AM
Commonly used and unregulated internet discussions and videos about guns and ammo could be closed down under rules proposed by the State Department, amounting to a “gag order on firearm-related speech,” the National Rifle Association is warning.
In updating regulations governing international arms sales, State is demanding that anyone who puts technical details about arms and ammo on the web first get the OK from the federal government — or face a fine of up to $1 million and 20 years in jail.
According to the NRA, that would include blogs and web forums discussing technical details of common guns and ammunition, the type of info gun owners and ammo reloaders trade all the time.
“Gunsmiths, manufacturers, reloaders, and do-it-yourselfers could all find themselves muzzled under the rule and unable to distribute or obtain the information they rely on to conduct these activities,” said the NRA in a blog posting.
“This latest regulatory assault, published in the June 3 issue of the Federal Register, is as much an affront to the First Amendment as it is to the Second,” warned the NRA’s lobbying shop. “Your action is urgently needed to ensure that online blogs, videos, and web forums devoted to the technical aspects of firearms and ammunition do not become subject to prior review by State Department bureaucrats before they can be published,” it added.
Websites like the popular Guns & Ammo have forums to discuss gun and ammo technical details.
At issue is the internet. State is updating International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which implement the federal Arms Export Control Act (AECA). The rules govern everything from guns to strategic bombers.
The NRA said that the rules predate the internet, and now the federal government wants to regulate technical arms discussions on on the internationally available web.
State’s proposal is highly technical. It took 14 pages in the Federal Register to explain. But the NRA boiled it down for gun owners with this warning:
"In their current form, the ITAR do not (as a rule) regulate technical data that are in what the regulations call the ‘public domain.’ Essentially, this means data ‘which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public’ through a variety of specified means. These include ‘at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents.’ Many have read this provision to include material that is posted on publicly available websites, since most public libraries these days make Internet access available to their patrons.
"The ITAR, however, were originally promulgated in the days before the Internet. Some State Department officials now insist that anything published online in a generally-accessible location has essentially been ‘exported,’ as it would be accessible to foreign nationals both in the U.S. and overseas.
"With the new proposal published on June 3, the State Department claims to be ‘clarifying’ the rules concerning ‘technical data’ posted online or otherwise ‘released’ into the ‘public domain.’ To the contrary, however, the proposal would institute a massive new prior restraint on free speech. This is because all such releases would require the ‘authorization’ of the government before they occurred. The cumbersome and time-consuming process of obtaining such authorizations, moreover, would make online communication about certain technical aspects of firearms and ammunition essentially impossible."
Below are the State changes drawing the NRA fire:
Paragraph (b) of the revised definition explicitly sets forth the Department’s requirement of authorization to release information into the ‘‘public domain.’’ Prior to making available ‘‘technical data’’ or software subject to the ITAR, the U.S. government must approve the release through one of the following: (1) The Department; (2) the Department of Defense’s Office of Security Review; (3) a relevant U.S. government contracting authority with authority to allow the ‘‘technical data’’ or software to be made available to the public, if one exists; or (4) another U.S. government official with authority to allow the ‘‘technical data’’ or software to be made available to the public.
The requirements of paragraph (b) are not new. Rather, they are a more explicit statement of the ITAR’s requirement that one must seek and receive a license or other authorization from the Department or other cognizant U.S. government authority to release ITAR controlled ‘‘technical data,’’ as defined in § 120.10. A release of ‘‘technical data’’ may occur by disseminating ‘‘technical data’’ at a public conference or trade show, publishing ‘‘technical data’’ in a book or journal article, or posting ‘‘technical data’’ to the Internet.
This proposed provision will enhance compliance with the ITAR by clarifying that ‘‘technical data’’ may not be made available to the public without authorization. Persons who intend to discuss ‘‘technical data’’ at a conference or trade show, or to publish it, must ensure that they obtain the appropriate authorization.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com.
I again must believe that while the revised wording would seem to offer the technical potential of the State dept. doing this, that they would use what would seem like forgone discretionary enforcement and not do what the NRA is proposing. If the State dept. attempted such a foolish & futile thing as to “regulate the internet” in so far as 1st-amendment gun & ammo discussion in the United States, it would have the opposite of the presumed desired effect and only bolster the resolve of those restricted, as well as those who would have otherwise never been interested in such discussions since it would suddenly become forbidden fruit. We see this with the whole 3-D printing gun formulas / instructions where computer and engineering types find themselves pushing the boundaries of firearm manufacturing when they would have otherwise never have become involved with guns, but they devote interest in it because they are told they can not do it. If I had to guess I would presume that this whole ITAR nonsense is about offering the State dept. the ability to enforce against the distribution of formulas for 3-D printed military hardware, and that “guns & munitions” are just a catch-all term they use in this regard. Call me optimistic.
There are some other potential legislative issues which have faded from the discussion forefront that concern me more, such as banning lead in some way, restricting ammunition imports in various ways, and the potential for gun-ban creep on things like 37mm launcher bans, .410 revolver / derringer bans, and the banning of certain pistol-bullets based on their penetrative potential vs body armor, and not their construction.
Given the past history of events during this administration and the circumventing the Constitution. I put nothing past this administration. Apathy will allow this sort of infringement of our Constitutional rights. Email your representatives and let them know where you stand. Heads in the sand and preaching to the choir gains nothing.