Sunday, March 04, 2012

A long way to go.

Julie in Australia has been chronicling her efforts at getting a new, empty pistol magazine from a gun store in one Australian city, Brisbane, back to her crib in another, Perth. These cities are in separate states, so it's like flying with one from Atlanta to Dallas, although reading the travails involved, from Boston to San Francisco would be a more appropriate analogy.

Some fellow bloggers wondered if they could send her one, to which Julie replied that the probable penalty for importing a sheet metal tube with a spring inside it, about as dangerous and mechanically complex as a Pez dispenser, without all the proper forms and baksheesh would be
The maximum penalty for importing these goods without import approval is a penalty not exceeding $275,000, imprisonment for 10 years, or both.
Which, you know, ha-ha, Australia, right? With their horrible gun laws?

Not so fast. The "U.S. Person" who shipped the magazines might well get a good look at the wrong end of an arrest warrant themselves. As a matter of fact, if Julie were to come on vacation over here and attend a shooting course, the instructor could theoretically run afoul of ITAR, because he would be "furnishing assistance (including training)" to a foreign national and possibly exporting "technical data" by putting it in Julie's Australian head.

We've been making progress on the firearms law front in the US, but we've got a long way to go.

(H/T to pdb.)


Bubblehead Les. said...

And Enforcement comes not from the FBI, BATFE nor the DOJ, but the State Department, currently under the Control Of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And we all know how the Clintons are SOOOO Pro the RKBA, correct?

Old NFO said...

FYI, it would ONLY fall under ITAR if it was a new design pistol... and one that is not exported to Australia. And that just sucks that one can't get something as simple as a magazine without jumping through massive hoops!!!

Bob S. said...

By the way the penalty for violating ITAR is up to 1,000,000 dollars and/or not more than 10 years in jail per infraction.

Let's say you left a blue print for a night vision goggle on your table and 15 foreign nationals viewed it - that isn't one infraction; it is 15.

The Jack said...

As NFO said, it's not quite that cut and dry. ITAR is a major pain.

Especially when you look at what falls under it and what does not.

What you can and cannot teach to a foreign national is mind boggling. And then there's how an FN is defined.

Tam said...

OldNFO & The Jack,

Which is why a lot of individuals and smaller companies just decide to err on the safe side rather than trust the whims of a frisky bureaucrat. Being right can sometimes drain you just as much financially as being wrong, and the risk just ain't worth it for a $25 magazine or $300 class tuition.

The Jack said...

Indeed. Example 105783 of regulational size-bias

But even for a large comp that has the whole department for ITAR wranglin' and legal won't take the financial risk if it doesn't pay for all those salaries.

So no small deals for them either.

Kristophr said...

Tam: a monetary value was set on ITAR last year ( under $150, I think ), at the request of US gun makers so they could deal with warranty repairs without having to get a Form 6.

The guy who sold that scandanavian active shooter a bunch of magazines over the internet used it to skate out of a prosecution.

Paul said...

...and even when the goods are NOT controlled, or controlled but permitted for export, the exporter needs a license which for a manufacturer costs in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Many manufacturers could not be bothered paying that kind of money, and risking the capriciousness of the various federal enforcement arms for the few foreign sales they would get. For some smaller concerns, it does not pay at all, so they don't do it.

It is very frustrating for us up here in Canukistan to be unable to order even the most innocuous items from the States.

If I want a replacement stock for my Garand, M1A, or anything else from Boyd's. I must wait for it to go on sale for less than $100.

Parts ordered from Numerich must often be broken up into several orders to get under the limit, with the increased shipping costs.

Orders from Brownells are often not completed because even though Brownells does have the requisite licenses, the original manufacturer does not. So you get the ridiculous situation where 1911 parts from one aftermarket company are perfectly fine, but the same part from another manufacturer is prohibited from export.

Even some parts that are foreign surplus or even originally imported for C&R guns cannot be re-exported because they are "military". Muzzle brakes are OK, but flash suppressors are not, for example. I would love to buy some accessories and parts for the FN FAL from DSA, but I can't.

I even know of cases where parts for old milsurps bought by a Canadian on ebay have resulted in charges for the American seller. On CanadianGunnutz there are several stickied threads on how to thread the maze and warnings about what can get you into trouble.

You also get crazy distinctions like for example, reloading tools and dies are uncontrolled, but components are. I as a Canadian cannot take a day trip to the States and while I am here, pick up some Starline brass, because exporting it is illegal without a license, but Dillon can ship me a whole press.

Also (WARNING!) if an American friend were to come up and visit me, and bring me some components or parts as a gift, they would be breaking the law and could get into huge trouble.

The Feds have also been known to stake out gun shows in border States and record Canadian license plates and have customs conduct outbound inspections to make sure you haven't bought anything.

I can see night vision devices and AR parts being under some control, but a wooden but for an old shotgun?

I can't buy Magpul videos online from an American supplier, but I can get one from a Canadian supplier (at a higher price), who has jumped through the hoops, or I can download it for free off Piratebay. Madness!

Anonymous said...

The magazine is part of a firearm and would be covered under ITAR. The $150 rule does apply but as folks have pointed out you need to have all the paper work in place as well.

In theory any thing that has dual use falls under ITAR. If the screw you are selling to a Aussie is also in use in an F-15, it sale is restricted under ITAR.

I will say it always surprised me the number of folks who try export restricted items with out paper work. At my old job we had people try and sell clearly listed widgets to Iran, PRC and N. Korea.


Do you have a permit for that robot?

Jayson said...

And some people truly believe the government isn't too big and stupid. Frankly, I want to burn it down and turn the buildings into lofts. The nicer buildings can can be museums.

Anonymous said...

Last year, the commissioner of the Victorian Police Force in Australia realized midway through an interstate flight that he had left an empty magazine from his service pistol in hisbcarry one luggage. It made front page news and he was nearly charged.

I was surprised, not that he forgot about the magazine but that he was dumb enough to tell the hostess when he could have just walked off the plane and out of the airport. Maybe he didn't realize that the security checks are on the way in, not out!


Lewis said...

Dang, I feel in the mood for some Lee Greenwood.

Don't y'all?

Oleg Volk said...

It's equally retarded in the US with sound suppressors. It's a tube with baffles -- but I can't lend it to a friend for a day without a criminal penalty!
PS: The new Captcha style is unreadable. And audio option doesn't work right, either.

nzgarry said...

Yes, the poor Australians got shafted by opportunist politicians. After the port Arthur massacre (1996 36 dead), the govt essentially banned private gun ownership. They eviscerated the weapons from the population via a taxpayer funded 'byback' scheme that saw gun owners paid for their beloved firearms to be chopped.

Australia is a big country with a low population. Like Texas I guess.
Can you imagine Texas without private gun ownership? It would be like Texas without horses, and that is what has happened to the Aussies.

Sendarius said...


"... essentially banned private gun ownership..."

Except that I (and many other gun owners) now legally own more and more powerful firearms than before the "ban".

New restrictions applied to handguns > .38" bore, magazines > 10 rounds, and semi-auto rifles and shotguns.

For example, I HAD firearms as follows:
1 x .45 ACP
2 x .40 S&W (technically one frame, with two slide and barrel assemblies)
1 x .38 Super
1 x .22LR

I NOW have firearms as follows:
2 x .38 Super Comp
1 x .38 Super
1 x .38 Special
1 x .40 S&W
1 x .303 British
1 x 7.62 x 54R
1 x 7.92 x 57 (aka 8mm)
1 x 20G
2 x 12G
4 x .22LR

Admittedly, I cannot carry any of them for self-defense, but I couldn't BEFORE the "ban", and there are many other countries of the world where this applies (and even some states of the US *cough* Illinois *cough*).

The hoops I have to jump through are onerous, and totally ineffectual at restricting criminal access to firearms, but they are not even approximately "a total ban on private gun ownership".

To be honest, other than losing the .45 and the 10/22 rabbit rifle that my grandmother bought me, both of which had special sentimental value, ITAR restrictions on exports from the US bite more. Previously I could order stuff from Brownells and others without drama: now that is a hassle.

FatWhiteMan said...

I used the PEZ Dispenser analogy once and some anti got all upset like I was feeding bullets to toddlers or stomping puppies or something.

Stretch said...

Thank God I live in the freedom loving US of A and can travel without any ... Oh, hold on. Have to pull over and secure my pistol in the trunk before I can drive through Maryland.

RWC said...


Help the anti reach the next level of PSH.


nzgarry said...

It is heartening to hear it's not that bad.
I saw a doco. on it several years ago that told a grim story. Also some conversations with Aussies come to mind. I will try to be better informed.

Sendarius said...


Don't get me wrong, it IS bad. It's just not as bad as the media would like you to believe.

As an indication of how unserious the antis are; firearm licensing applications are done via the Post Office!

Kristophr said...

Oleg: FDR came within inches of getting pistols tax-stamped in this country.

The NFA of 1934 was originally drafted to ban MGs and pistols by taxing them at the equivalent of $16,000+ 2012 dollars each.

The NRA, in one of its first political acts, got the word pistol changed to silencer in the bill at the last moment.

All of the seeming silly rules about SBSs, SBRs, and parts are internally logical in the NFA in that light.

Julie said...

happy news - I've got my magazine :) ...
brought it back with me (well in checked luggage - as a restricted item) on the flight.

now just got to find the keys to the padlocked case it's in :)