What would the nomination of retired Gen. David Petraeus as Secretary of State mean for gun owners?
First, it’s more than a little ironic that Trump would even consider someone convicted of mishandling classified information for the role after he hammered Hillary Clinton for (a much graver version) of the same thing.
Petraeus gave his mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell, a notebook which “contained code words for secret intelligence programs, the identities of covert officers, and information about war strategy and deliberative discussions with the National Security Council.” Whatever other professional qualifications he may have, his inability to keep classified information under wraps disqualifies him.
Then, earlier this year Petraeus joined with Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, to form a gun control group, Veterans Coalition for Common Sense. That’s been widely reported. But the Secretary of State doesn’t have anything to do with gun policy, right?
The State Department interprets and enforces the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which “control[s] the export and import of defense-related articles and services on the United States Munitions List (USML).” ITAR’s regulations implement the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act.
In July of this year, the State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Controls issued a guidance requiring gunsmiths to register as “manufacturers” with DDTC and pay a $2,250 annual fee, even if they don’t export anything. As a group of GOP lawmakers stated in their letter of opposition:
“The vast majority of our constituents engaged in gunsmithing make little to no income from their activities and often do it as a hobby or side business. They most certainly do not export firearms. They also do not manufacture firearms in any widely understood sense of the term.”
Back in June 2015 the State Department announced a proposal that claimed “to be ‘clarifying’ the rules concerning ‘technical data’ posted online or otherwise ‘released’ into the ‘public domain.’” Technical data includes blueprints, photographs, plans, et cetera. If the rules were interpreted to mean that posting a plan to create a 3-D gun on a blog constituted exportation of technical data, as some State Department bean counters believe, you’d have to apply for authorization from the government before posting the information on your blog. If you didn’t, the penalty could be up to 20 years in prison or a $1 million fine.
Having a Secretary of State who openly advocates for more gun control, and who has the ability to reinterpret regulations without Congressional oversight, would be disastrous for gun owners, hobbyist gunsmiths, and manufacturers.