ITAR-Import and Export

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The Gun Control Act of 1968 generally prohibits the importation of firearms, firearms frames or receivers, firearms barrels and ammunition into the United States. However, the Gun Control Act creates several narrow categories of firearms the Attorney General shall authorize for importation.

In general, the Gun Control Act provides that firearms or ammunition may be imported into the United States for the purpose of scientific testing or research or for competition training as unserviceable firearms if the firearms or ammunition are of a type generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to “sporting purposes,” or the firearms or ammunition were previously taken out of the United States by the person who is bringing in the firearms or ammunition. Handguns being imported into the United States also must be recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.

In determining whether a particular rifle or shotgun is suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes within the meaning of the statute, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or BATFE, generally relies upon an analysis of the physical features of the firearm. Determinations regarding the classification of a specific rifle or shotgun are made on a case-by-case basis using criteria that include the overall appearance, length, weight, receiver or frame design and construction, designed magazine capacity, configuration, and the presence of various physical characteristics designed for military and law enforcement application that distinguish the sample rifle or shotgun from traditional sporting firearms.

In addition, The U.S. Arms Export Control Act implemented by the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and administered by the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), prohibits the export and temporary import of defense articles and technical data, the provision of defense services to foreign persons, and the brokering of defense articles or services by all persons in the United States and by U.S. persons wherever located, unless approved in advance by a DDTC-issued export license agreement or by qualification for an ITAR exemption. Any person in the USA who manufactures, exports, or temporarily imports defense articles, furnishes defense services to foreign persons, or brokers defense articles or services must register with DDTC and maintain records of regulated activities for 5 years. Persons who pay certain fees or commissions to secure the sale of defense articles or services must report those payments to DDTC. Violations are punishable by fines, imprisonment, and debarment . Also, 18 U.S.C.A. 554 prohibits the export of any item from the United States contrary to any law or regulation of the United States, punishable by fine and imprisonment of not more than 10 years.

Kutak Rock’s International Trade Group focuses heavily on defending foreign manufacturers and U.S. importers in proceedings before the U.S. Department of Commerce, while the Firearms Industry Practice Group assists the same groups in navigating through the variety of forms and compliance requirements for importation under the Gun Control Act and exportation under the ITAR.

Our lawyers network with and rely upon international and U.S. trade consultants who specialize in investigations. Many of these individuals are former Department of Commerce and BATFE analysts and employees. We work closely with these consultants to develop and prepare the necessary compliance material for importation.