Tester questions proposed gun regulations

Missoula Current

Sen. Jon Tester on Monday joined colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry after catching word of new gun regulations he believes would harm Montana hunters, shooters and gunsmiths.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) speaks during an interview with Reuters in Billings, Montana August 16, 2012. Tester, a farmer and high school music teacher who won the election in 2006 in an upset over Republican incumbent Conrad Burns, faces U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) in the November election. Picture taken August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
U.S. Senator Jon Tester. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

According to Tester, the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls issued guidance to clarify when a gunsmith is required to register under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

He said the regulations could result in a $2,250 annual registration fee for small Montana businesses dealing in firearms – a figure Tester called excessive.

“I am concerned that this guidance creates greater confusion and could lead to overly burdensome fees being placed on small businesses and hobbyists that are not engaged in exporting these goods in any significant way,” Tester wrote. “We have heard from our constituents expressing concerns that DDTC’s broad guidance would have negative effect on my state’s many hunters, shooters and gunsmiths.”

Tester, who joined fellow Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin, Martin Heinrich and Amry Klobuchar, believes the proposed guidance would negatively impact Montana gun owners.

As proposed, DDTC seeks to clarify when a gunsmith is required to register under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Those who signed the letter expressed concern that the guidance creates greater confusion and could lead to burdensome fees.

“We are troubled by this possibility and ask that you ensure that is not the case,” the letter read in part. “As supporters of the 2nd Amendment, we can tell you it is not uncommon for individual owners to modify their own firearms.”

Tester has previously asked President Barack Obama to review the status of items on the U.S. Munitions list. Tester said the list of Category I, II and III items, along with guidance from DDTC, has impacted Montana businesses and gun owners.