State Department proposes fines for writing about guns without permission

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New regulations being proposed by the Obama administration would require anyone writing on the web about guns to get approval first from the State Department or face serious fines.

In their current form, the ITAR do not (as a rule) regulate technical data that are in what the regulations call the ‘public domain.’ Essentially, this means data ‘which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public’ through a variety of specified means. These include ‘at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents.’ Many have read this provision to include material that is posted on publicly available websites, since most public libraries these days make Internet access available to their patrons.

The ITAR, however, were originally promulgated in the days before the Internet. Some State Department officials now insist that anything published online in a generally-accessible location has essentially been ‘exported,’ as it would be accessible to foreign nationals both in the U.S. and overseas.

With the new proposal published on June 3, the State Department claims to be ‘clarifying’ the rules concerning ‘technical data’ posted online or otherwise ‘released’ into the ‘public domain.’ To the contrary, however, the proposal would institute a massive new prior restraint on free speech. This is because all such releases would require the ‘authorization’ of the government before they occurred. The cumbersome and time-consuming process of obtaining such authorizations, moreover, would make online communication about certain technical aspects of firearms and ammunition essentially impossible. [emphasis mine]

In your wildest dreams did you ever think we’d come to a time in the U.S. where the federal government thought it acceptable to require citizens to get their permission before they could publish something?


  • pzatchok

    Exactly what do they mean by ‘technical’ aspects?

    Everything ‘technical’ is already published about them from specific sizes of ALL parts to technical aspects of each metal and plastic part.
    Reloading manuals already publish all aspects of the ammo and pressures for each loading, thus exactly what the gun and metal limits are.
    And if the gun was EVER available oversees for any reason then everything is already know by foreign powers about it. Add in the fact it could have easily been smuggled out of the country.

    This isn’t about limiting data from getting out of the US but it is about making sure everyone who publishes about firearms goes through the Government first to get approval.

    This is just another way for the Dems to hand the ATF even more power over the people. I bet they leave it up to the ATF to decide what the ‘technical’ aspect of a firearm is. And if that happens expect it to change with every change of office paint.

  • David M. Cook

    This has been a problem in the past for both rocket enthusiasts and purveyors of cryptographic software. There MAY be a case to be made for restricting the publication of info in either of these fields (no, I’m NOT trying to make that case!), but to restrict writing on guns and ammunition is exposing the Obama administration and the democrats as Soviet-style socialists who are VERY afraid of the people and want very much to take our guns away so we cannot do away with these socialists. If the dems win the White House again they may even try a UK-style gun grab. I wouldn’t put anything past these creeps.

  • Cotour

    This is no longer the government of the American people, this is a sign of the coming U.N. governance of America and the world. I do not see any politician of any consequence in either party as being against any of this. And Obama (and the Republicans that in reality support him) has about 16 months to go, what will he (and they) be able to accomplish in the coming months?

  • Steve S.

    Good luck with enforcing that Mr. President. All you’ll do is INCRAESE the amount written about guns. I know very little and I’m workin’ up an article right now. Idiot…

  • Pzatchok

    Both of those fields have a very limited number of people on the design and implementation and only a few more actually get to or need use the designs to their full extent.

    Guns on the other hand as soon as they are out on the open market they can all be reverse engineered. There is nothing special about their materials or design.

    Electronic sights and other devises can be kept pretty secret but even those can be reverse engineered.

    Unless they outlaw the manufacture of guns and or ammo the data for those things will be out there.

    They also need designs for replacement parts.

  • Concur. If the regulations vest, I’ll be publishing an article on gun specs.

    Related note: I’ve noted an increase in pushback on regulation in general. The state of Oregon is ready to tell the Feds to take a hike on growing hemp, and Lane County in Oregon has voted not to enforce a law requiring background checks on gun sales. County sheriffs throughout the state have taken a similar stance.

    “They have ruled, now let them enforce.”

    Could we be seeing the beginning of a new American Revolution?

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