NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, and a small Washington state business filed a motion in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington in Seattle to intervene in a lawsuit filed by 23 state attorneys general to block two recently announced rules by the Trump administration. The rules changes would create jobs and reduce onerous and costly regulations on small businesses.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and 22 other state attorneys general, are suing to halt export reforms due to go into effect March 9 following the final rules moving export licensing of sporting and commercial firearms and ammunition products to the Commerce Department from the State Department. The export reforms were begun during the Obama administration and only recently completed. The attorney's general complaint centers on claims the technology for 3D printing of firearms would be “de-regulated.” However, their complaint seeks to block the reforms in their entirety. These rules would end punitive registration fees on small businesses that do not export firearms or ammunition products. The motion filed this week asks the court to allow NSSF, as the firearms industry’s trade association, to intervene in the case to defend its members’ interests.
“Attorney General Ferguson, and the other attorneys general, are continuing to punish small business owners to score political points,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs and General Counsel for NSSF. “The attorneys general target only the export reforms treatment of technical data related to 3D-printed firearms, yet seek an injunction against, or to vacate altogether, the reforms that make American businesses more competitive. This is an unacceptable overreach by states to dictate federal export policy.”
NSSF’s motion is joined by Frederic’s Arms & Smiths, a local gunsmith shop in Richland, Wash., established in 2012. This small business, comprised of just the two co-owners, offers services including firearms repair, restoration, cleaning, customization and building of firearms. Frederic’s Arms does not, nor has it ever, created firearms through 3D printing or exported any firearm.
However, the complaint led by Attorney General Ferguson would stop reforms that abolish a punitive annual $2,250 registration fee levied on all gunsmiths, whether or not they ever build or export a firearm. This fee is a significant burden for Frederic’s Arms which was forced to raise its prices fees to cover the cost of the registration fee. That limits Frederic’s Arms’ competitive ability and risks the business’s livelihood. The lawsuit brought by the state attorneys general is creating uncertainty if an injunction were to be granted or were successful in stopping the reforms entirely.
The Trump Administration published the final rules to transfer export licensing of sporting and commercial firearms and ammunition products to the Commerce Department from the State Department Jan. 23. In addition to eliminating the punitive $2,250 annual registration fee for manufacturers of firearms and ammunition products as well as small gunsmith businesses, the change removes unnecessary and outdated regulations and allows the State Department to focus its export control resources on those items that give our war fighters a tactical advantage. The new rules also maintain export control over technical data for 3D printing firearms, in addition to existing domestic federal and state laws. It makes no sense to treat the commercial sale of hunting or target shooting rifles with the same level of scrutiny as nuclear weapons, tanks and fighter aircraft.