Free Speech Alert! State Department Could Ban All Online Discussion of Technical Aspects of Firearms/Ammunition

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The State Department has moved ahead with a possible ban on all online speech of technical aspects of firearms and ammunition. If accurate, they will seriously erode the First and Second Amendment – both at the same time – with this new supposed “clarification” of existing regulations and they are doing it without hesitation.

A new regulation published in the June 3 issue of the Federal Register could ban discussion of the technical aspects of firearms and ammunition on blogs online, videos and web forums unless the State Department’s unelected bureaucrats give permission first.

Permission!

The penalties for violations are severe and for each violation could include up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Civil penalties can also be assessed.

The excuse for these new regulations is that they are merely “clarifying” the rules concerning “technical data” posted online or otherwise “released” into the “public domain.”

It is a possible abuse of an existing set of regulations (the International Traffic in Arms Regulations or ITAR) which implement the federal Arms Export Control Act. The arms that move transnationally in and out of the United States which are on the Munitions List require a license from the State Department and the producers must register with the government and pay a hefty fee.

Technical data is also regulated but it never included data in the “public domain”.  That’s about to change. They are extending it to include public venues which would make any discussion about the technical aspects of firearms and ammunition subject to government approval.

Gunsmiths, manufacturers, reloaders, and do-it-yourselfers would lose their free speech rights. I’ve gone onto these blogs myself for information purposes especially when I was writing mystery stories.

The Washington Examiner posted this:

“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.”

Below are the State changes drawing the NRA fire:

Paragraph (b) of the revised definition explicitly sets forth the Department’s requirement of authorization to release information into the ”public domain.” Prior to making available ”technical data” or software subject to the ITAR, the U.S. government must approve the release through one of the following: (1) The Department; (2) the Department of Defense’s Office of Security Review; (3) a relevant U.S. government contracting authority with authority to allow the ”technical data” or software to be made available to the public, if one exists; or (4) another U.S. government official with authority to allow the ”technical data” or software to be made available to the public.

The requirements of paragraph (b) are not new. Rather, they are a more explicit statement of the ITAR’s requirement that one must seek and receive a license or other authorization from the Department or other cognizant U.S. government authority to release ITAR controlled ”technical data,” as defined in § 120.10. A release of ”technical data” may occur by disseminating ”technical data” at a public conference or trade show, publishing ”technical data” in a book or journal article, or posting ”technical data” to the Internet.

This proposed provision will enhance compliance with the ITAR by clarifying that ”technical data” may not be made available to the public without authorization. Persons who intend to discuss ”technical data” at a conference or trade show, or to publish it, must ensure that they obtain the appropriate authorization.

It could end up being one more way to eliminate guns from existence, at least visually. They are hitting the Second Amendment on every conceivable level and they have no respect for free speech. The elite see none of this as and inherent right.

Just last week, Rep. Carolyn Maloney sponsored a bill to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance if they buy a gun. If they don’t buy the insurance and are caught, according to the wording of the bill, they would be subject to a $10,000 fine.

Please make your voice heard.

Public comment will be accepted on the proposed gag order until August 3, 2015. Comments may be submitted online at regulations.gov or via e-mail at DDTCPublicComments@state.gov with the subject line, ‘‘ITAR Amendment—Revisions to Definitions; Data Transmission and Storage.”

Please contact your U.S. Senators and Member of Congress. Urge them to oppose the State Department’s attempt to censor online speech concerning the technical aspects of firearms and ammunition. Use the “Write Your Lawmakers” feature on our website or call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 225-3121.

SOURCES: NRA and Breitbart

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