New Trump Regs Would Alleviate Registration Costs for Gunsmiths, FFLs

President Donald Trump (Photo: Twitter)

A new proposed regulation announced this week by the Department of State could alleviate the massive annual registration fee that has for years kept small gunsmiths and FFLs out of business.

The regulatory amendment would transfer defense articles to the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce if they are not inherently for military end use and are widely available in retail outlets. The change would remove the annual $2,250 fee required by the Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Control (DDTC), which the Obama administration imposed on gunsmiths who “manufacture” firearms and ammunition.

In 2012 the Obama administration stepped up enforcement of a regulation that required firearm and ammunition manufacturers to register with the DDTC under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Because they said that even small gunsmiths engage in activities that are regulated under the ITAR. Many of these small shops closed down because they couldn’t afford the annual registration fee along with compliance costs.

Now the Trump administration’s Department of State is looking to revise these regulations by transferring items currently listed in the United States Munitions List and controlled by the ITAR to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which is controlled by the Department of Commerce. These items include non-automatic and semi-automatic firearms and ammunition, as well as their related parts and services. This is good news for gunsmiths because the Department of Commerce does not impose a registration requirement for the manufacture of controlled items and there is no annual fee.

SEE ALSO: GOP Lawmakers Pen Letter to Stop ITAR Gun Control Targeting Gunsmiths

Fully automatic weapons will remain under the ITAR, but so will suppressors, suppressor parts, and any related services. Magazines that have a capacity in excess of 50 rounds will also remain on the list, and companies that manufacture these accessories will be required to register under the ITAR.

The decision to retain these items in the USML seems to contradict the Department of State’s stated goal to “revise the U.S. Munitions List so that its scope is limited to those defense articles that provide the United States with a critical military or intelligence advantage or, in the case of weapons, are inherently for military end use.”

Suppressors and 50+ round magazines are not inherently for military use and are widely available in commercial retail stores throughout the United States. It is unclear why the Department of State would deregulate semi-automatic firearms but retain the burdensome registration fee for companies that manufacture suppressors and high-capacity magazines.

Interested parties may submit comments on the new regs by emailing: with the subject line, “ITAR Amendment – Categories I, II, and III.”

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Joe Elbow May 19, 2018, 11:02 pm

    Supressors are usefull in taming down the loud report of a firearm as on an outdoor firing ranges not to annoy neighboring towns as a police range was closed in New Jersey for loud gun noise. Hunting in some areas are not aloud because of gun noise and not the safety aspect.

  • Jerry Hummel May 19, 2018, 2:47 pm

    Shall not be infringed!! Any government intervention is ilegal and against the Constitution.

  • Leighton Cavendish May 19, 2018, 8:39 am

    Get rid of NFA and GCA…we have to do checks to legally purchase items…
    think I could even live with an instant check for suppressors and machine guns including a photo and fingerprints…
    get rid of the $200 per item tax stamps and months long waiting periods

  • BRASS May 18, 2018, 3:41 pm

    The statement: “Suppressors … are not inherently for military use and are widely available in commercial retail stores throughout the United States, is factually incorrect.
    The Department of Defense has purchased tens of thousands of suppressors for military use and they are becoming a more standard and necessary item each day.
    Any review of RFPs for suppressors of all types or military purchase orders for suppressors reveals how our military depends on them and intends to increase their use in the future.

    • Jeff May 18, 2018, 4:48 pm

      However, unlike machineguns, suppressors are much more abundant in private civilian hands in the United States than in military service by a significant margin (same for semi-automatic firearms and shotguns). Whether or not the military intends to increase the use of suppressors (just like semi-automatic firearms and shotguns) is irrelevant which makes the article’s statement factually correct.

    • GARY S KUYAT May 19, 2018, 4:30 pm

      I think they mean inherently for millitary use only. The military uses water every day, but i don’t consider that inherently for millitary use.

  • Dan B May 18, 2018, 1:17 pm

    I sent the following to the Department of State email as my comment on the proposed regulatory change. I include it here to possibly inspire others to send their comments as well.


    I wanted to provide an opinion on the proposed regulatory changes to move numerous firearms and related items from the ITAR roles to the Department of Commerce jurisdiction. I fully support these changes and believe they should go even farther. I think the standard should be anything available to a US citizen, in good legal standing and permitted by at least one state, should be considered non-ITAR. The US Government and military use a broad range of non-military specific weapons for a variety of mission statements. To assume that use by the military classifies a weapon, accessory, or ammunition as “military” is wrong. Would the purchase of Nike Air Jordans by a military unit then make them military clothing? Using the standard of what is legally available to the general public makes much more sense and eliminates ambiguity since we are by definition civilians, aka not the military. Only a one line specification is required..”Any firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that is legally allowed for purchase or sale to a US citizen in at least one state of the union is deemed a non-ITAR commodity to be regulated under the applicable rules within the Department of Commerce.” That is my opinion as a concerned US citizen and a registered voter in the state of Georgia. Thank you for your time.


  • BESwart May 18, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Sundance98, who is the us you refer to?

  • goose May 18, 2018, 1:01 pm

    I would love to have noise suppression for my weapons but don’t whine about it I’m grateful we are getting something back the last administration stole from us! it will take a little more time and as far as you duck hunters (which I am) have you ever been a HOT zone heavy fire wwII, that’s noise and its day in and day out. what do you want to do for those men?

  • Silverbullet May 18, 2018, 11:44 am

    I agree only an idiot who has never hunted or been around shooting guns . Ported guns are even louder and short barrel guns are the worst for hearing problems.
    I’ve been shooting guns for over 50 years and yes I have hearing loss .

  • Isaiah May 18, 2018, 10:40 am

    I oppose the continuing regulation on the use of suppressors, I shoot regularly and have lost some of my hearing from the firearm report. The federal government mandates hearing protection integrating all sound levels from 80 dBA to at least 130 dBA. In the “Compliance Guide to MSHA’s Occupational Noise Exposure Standard” Section 62.120 requires that you must assure that no miner is exposed at any time to sound levels exceeding 115 dBA, even if the miner is wearing dual hearing protection. Gunshot decibel levels, measured by John S. Odess, M.D., ranged between 143.5 from a .22 short to 184.4 from a .458 Win.

    If I was using a firearm at work MSHA would not only require the use of suppressors it would also require wearing dual hearing protection, please explain to me why the federal government mandates hearing protection at work yet at home they block me from protecting my hearing and the hearing of others around me by making the only known way to bring down the sound decibel levels of my firearms next to impossible for myself and others to afford and or use?

    • Slingblade May 18, 2018, 11:09 am

      Welcome to live in a so called “free country” ….get used to it

      • ZackW May 18, 2018, 1:04 pm

        No, don’t get used to it, push and work to change it. This country isn’t great because it already enables every sensible freedom, it’s great because it allows us to push for changes we need as times change. We will, over time, with work, and more education, get to non-restricted/regulated suppressor use.

  • Johnny Raygun May 18, 2018, 10:34 am

    I guess there will be plenty of 49 rounds mags soon.

    • Slingblade May 18, 2018, 11:11 am

      it said in EXCESS of 50

      • ranger51r May 22, 2018, 5:57 pm

        I think the article is incorrect because the actual wording (from

        Detachable magazines with a capacity of greater than 16 rounds but fewer than 50 rounds that are “specially
        designed” for firearms listed above;

        The “firearms listed above” are:

        • Non-automatic and semi-automatic firearms (other than shotguns) with a caliber of less than or equal to .50
        inches (12.7 mm);
        • Non-automatic and non-semi-automatic rifles, carbines, revolvers or pistols with a caliber greater than .50
        inches (12.7 mm) but not greater than .72 inches (18.0 mm);

        So the article should probably have said “in excess of 49 rounds” or magazines with capacity of 50 rounds or more.

      • Keith May 23, 2018, 12:19 am

        Most magazines that hold over thirty-two rounds are not very good unless they are single stacked. Magazines that hold more rounds than thirty-two that are double stacked more likely get out of alignment and causes jams and malfunctions when feeding in a semi automatic firearm. I believe the reliable drum magazine models are single stacked.

        Drum magazines presently cost over nine times what an AR-15 thirty round magazine costs. Twenty round M-14 and AR-10 magazines are about four times lower in cost over drum magazines.

        Stick with the twenty to thirty round magazines in my opinion and invest in magazine pouches.

  • Sundance98 May 18, 2018, 10:27 am

    *An Argument could be made that Suppressors for the 30.06 and above can cause hearing loss. However, with the new Digital
    Ear Protection…..that seems a reach. Hunters wear Orange, shuffle through the forest and stir up sticks and make sounds to scare most animals. If you are using a Tree Stand….there is little reason to require a Suppressor. If you are in a Duck Blind…there is little reason to lower the retort of your 32 inch, 12 Gauge! Don’t know, but to say you need a Suppressor for
    your Colt Woodsman or Military High Standard .22…..sounds like a bunch of bull to us!

    • Thomas Herren May 18, 2018, 11:11 am

      Sundance, You obviously don’t hunt or shoot much. Stealth is key when still hunting which you probably don’t understand per your conversation comments. And 30-06 and above? You really don’t shoot much. You better research noise decibels of firearms. Have you ever sat beside someone in a duck blind whose shooting a choke that’s been ported? Doubt you ever went duck hunting. Digital ear protection? Not many can afford it. What reason do you have for not wanting suppressors on the open market, no your real reason?

  • Jerry S. May 18, 2018, 10:05 am

    I just sent my comment to the agency listed above. We should all make our voices heard. I too have suffered hearing loss from the military and hunting myself. These items are not public safety risks.

  • ted May 18, 2018, 8:09 am

    totally agree

  • Al Latham May 18, 2018, 7:35 am

    I shoot regularly and have lost some of my hearing from the firearm report. Please make it possible for me to be able to afford the ownership of suppressors. It’s good for the shooter and also for others at the range.

  • Henry Hursey May 18, 2018, 5:21 am

    I oppose the continuing regulation on the use of suppressors, when used by law abiding gun owners. The most effective means that reduce loud report, contributeing to hearing loss and also affects marksmanship.

    • Terry Constance May 18, 2018, 7:26 am


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