Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't Even Think of Exporting That Scope or Gun Accessory!

The main thing that spurred me to write this article is that it's a daily occurrence to see both private and commercial sellers on eBay, GunBroker, Amazon, and other websites in general offering to sell their gun accessories and parts (not including actual firearms) to folks in other countries. While I am certainly no expert on import/export laws, I can drop this bit of wisdom on you: DON'T DO IT. 

What a good majority of these sellers don't know is this - just because you can walk into a store and buy it without a permit or special permission or that it doesn't appear to the average citizen to have a military purpose or design DOES NOT mean you can ship it out of the country. The exception to this, of course, is that you can export with the necessary permits and permissions from the appropriate government agencies. Furthermore, these items can only be sold to U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents as defined by the respective regulatory agencies.

Exports are regulated by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and other governmental agencies. This covers pretty much anything that can be considered a "Defense Article" or pertaining to national security (and other definitions). This does not only apply to physical, tangible goods but information as well. Additionally, that's not only applicable to gun accessories and information, but virtually any item that can be used or converted to a military application from computers to special metals to microwaves and so on.

There are alot of forces out there conspiring against us and it's our responsibility that we do our part to make things harder on them. One thing that I have noticed is that in an effort to circumvent non-export policies, buyers are purchasing online and having the seller unknowingly ship to freight forwarders and exporters who will then send the item abroad. Keep a vigilant eye out for that tactic and cancel any orders which you determine are going to anyone other than U.S Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents as defined by the aforementioned government agencies. 

There is so much that the average Joe would think is harmless to ship out but some of the cases below will show that the situation is quite contrary to that belief. I have selected a few interesting cases which I have taken directly from the U.S. Department of State's own website. The full gamut can be viewed here: U.S. Dept. of State - DDTC

Military Weapons Sight to Germany - On Feb. 8, 2008, Bertrand Lalsingh of Hollywood,
Florida, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, to exporting knowingly and willfully an EOTech 553 Holgraphic Weapon Sight, an item designated a defense article‖ in Category I of the U.S. Munitions List, from the United States to Germany, without having first obtained authorization from the U.S. Department of State. Laslingh was later sentenced to 5 months in prison.

Combat Riflescopes Overseas - On June 25, 2010, Chou-Fu Ho was arrested after being indicted in the Southern District of California on charges of smuggling and illegally exporting military night vision systems to various locations overseas without the required State Department licenses. According to the indictment Ho illegally exported to Hong Kong and Japan combat riflescopes listed on the U.S. Munitions List without obtaining the required export licenses. Ho also allegedly attempted to illegally export combat riflescopes to Ireland, Austria and the United Arab Emirates. The investigation was conducted by ICE and DCIS.

Sighting Devices to Afghanistan and Taiwan - On Sept. 18, 2009, Aaron Henderson, doing
business as Vahalla Tactical Supply, pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Iowa to a criminal
information, arising from his illegal export of restricted sighting devices to Taiwan and Afghanistan without the required export licenses. Henderson was sentenced to time served and
two years-supervised release. The investigation was conducted by BIS, ICE and the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Exports of Gun Sights to Various Locations - In February 2005, BIS assessed a $510,000 administrative penalty against Bass Pro., Inc. as part of an agreement to settle charges related to the unlicensed export of gun sights to a range of destinations. Gun sights are controlled for human rights and anti-terrorism reasons. 

There were even a couple of cases that I read, although I don't remember where or I would post them here, which involved companies using exchange student interns. As a part of their duties as interns, these students were exposed to information and technology that is regulated by government agencies. The mere exposure to the information was considered "exporting" and as such was a violation of the various laws.

The bottom line here folks - Know the laws and comply with them. If you are not sure if an item is controlled for export, don't just ship on faith that everything will be alright. Call, email, check with the appropriate government agencies and be certain. 

Here's some useful links to get you started.

For further information regarding the applicable laws, regulations, and policies contact:
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Bureau of Industry and Security
  • Tel.: (202) 482-4811
  • Website: http://www.bis.doc.gov
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
  • Directorate of Defense Trade Control
  • Tel.: (202) 663-1282
  • Website: http://www.pmddtc.state.gov
DDTC Response Team
Tel.: (202) 663-1282
Website: http://www.pmddtc.state.gov/response_team/index.html
Email: DDTCResponseTeam@state.gov