One of the thing that’s unique about the Firearms Industry is that it’s one of the few heavily regulated industries that’s made up almost exclusively of small businesses. It is, in effect, a cottage industry. This is a sharp contrast to many other regulated fields, where you only have fairly significant and large players dealing with their regulatory body. In Pharmaceuticals, which is the regulated industry I work in, smaller biotech companies feed ideas and products to “big pharm.” who are generally the regulatory and marketing arms of the industry. The reason being is that small companies don’t really have the resources to comply with the regulatory requirements, and don’t typically have the relationships with their regulator that the big guys do. In Pharmaceuticals, regulatory compliance is very time consuming and costly, which puts it out of the reach of most small businesses.
One reason I think we see a lot of things like this and like this in the firearms industry is that you’re dealing with smaller players who don’t have the money to hire full time legal staff, or maintain staff that deal specifically with ensuring regulatory compliance. In the end that becomes everyone’s job, and if you think about the kind of people you work with, some people are obviously going to be up to the task, and others aren’t. Firearms certainly aren’t the only regulated cottage industry, but I suspect if you look at the other examples, you’ll find a lot of similar stories. Fishing is another such industry, and it’s not all that rare to hear of cases of people being prosecuted for, say, importing lobsters in the wrong bag.
In cases where the federal government is regulating small business, the regulations need to be clear, and easy to comply with. Especially when violation can come attached with criminal charges. We still have a lot of work to do in this area, and not just on guns.