Public Comment Period for ITAR Gun Owner Silencing Rule

A reader asked about the public comment period for the proposed rule by the State Department to muzzle free speech for gun owners. Here is what the proposal says about public comments:

DATES: The Department of State will accept comments on this proposed rule until August 3, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Interested parties may submit comments within 60 days of the date of publication by one of the following methods:

  • Email: with the subject line, ‘‘ITAR Amendment—Revisions to Definitions; Data Transmission and Storage.’’
  • Internet: At, search for this notice by using this rule’s RIN (1400–AD70).

Comments received after that date may be considered, but consideration cannot be assured. Those submitting comments should not include any personally identifying information they do not desire to be made public or information for which a claim of confidentiality is asserted because those comments and/or transmittal emails will be made available for public inspection and copying after the close of the comment period via the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls Web site at Parties who wish to comment anonymously may do so by submitting their comments via, leaving the fields that would identify the commenter blank and including no identifying information in the comment itself. Comments submitted via are immediately available for public inspection.

So you have until August to submit a public comment. I encourage everyone to do so. Remember, they are legally required to address serious comments. If they receive even tens of thousands of them, it will seriously interfere with their ability to promulgate this regulation according to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). If they are going to do this power grab, I see no reason to make it easy for them!

5 thoughts on “Public Comment Period for ITAR Gun Owner Silencing Rule”

  1. Public comments on a proposed rule need to be focused, well thought out and logically & legally sound to be effective. For example, if you say “this violates the 1st and 2nd Amendments” the department lawyers have already consented that they meet constitutional muster, so that comment is wasted. Instead, if you assert violations + court cases or conflict with statutory law, now the department has to go back and review. The review can consist of nothing at all or they may actually be compelled to analyze the comment and respond. The response can span the spectrum, but if a review of data has to take place, this is good.

    A very, very effective example of this are the public comments submitted by Prince Law against the ATF’s proposed trust rule. I didn’t personally agree with every point made, but the public comments as a whole were an absolutely brilliantly authored piece of work that quite honestly was far beyond the intelligence of anyone working at ATF.

    Another effective method of public comment is to oppose, and provide a viable, less intrusive alternative to still accomplish the same overall objective.

    Normally, with a focused, easy to explain proposed regulation, I would advocate for immediate and high volume public comments. This rule, however, is quite arcane and I’m betting it does not simply outlaw publicly posting technical drawings. rather, my thought is that it may be slightly more nuanced – not that it isn’t bad, but, blindly commenting against the rule would diminish our effectiveness if we aren’t accurately addressing what the reg. actually does.

    look at the new definition of “required”, “peculiarly responsible”, etc.

    In other words, the regulation proposed is awful, but it is very, very important that our side have framed the actual effects accurately and that our comments effectively address those points.

  2. “If they receive even tens of thousands of them, it will seriously interfere with their ability to promulgate this regulation according to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)”

    Except it sounds to me like the State Dept doesn’t consider this rule change subject to APA and are just holding an open comment period out of the deep respect they have for all potentially impacted parties…

    “The Department of State is of the opinion that controlling the import and export of defense articles and services is a foreign affairs function of the U.S. government and that rules implementing this function are exempt from sections 553 (rulemaking) and 554 (adjudications) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Although the Department is of the opinion that this proposed rule is exempt from the rulemaking provisions of the APA, the Department is publishing this rule with a 60-day provision for public comment and without prejudice to its determination that controlling the import and export of defense services is a foreign affairs function.”

    I read that as saying, “We’ll be nice and open it up for public comment, but if we don’t like the comments we’ll just trash them and go forward anyway”.

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