No U.S. Ammo in Canada?: Politics and Pistols, Pt. 2

Editor's Note: The following commentary was published as a follow-up to the article published on this website here.

By Jim Shepherd

[Recently], we reported that Canadian authorities had sent word of a United States State Department proposal that would ban several ammo calibers sale by United States companies to Canada. It's safe to say that the story kicked off quite a storm on both sides of the border.

In Canada, calls to their Parliament protested the idea that whole classes of ammo could, effectively, be stopped at the border. Here in the US, it taught me to be a good bit more exact with the concepts of import and export. The intent of the story was simple - to let our readers know the United States Department of State was considering a ban on the export of US ammo in several calibers to Canada.

Although the .50 BMG, 7.62 x39mm Soviet, 7.61 x51 NATO, .308 Winchester, 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington are considered by some to be purely military rounds, they are, in fact, very effective for hunting anything from varmints to polar bears. The US State Department, however, seemed to be trying to use the military application of those rounds and classify them as for military sales only. Technically, it's not a "gun ban" or even an "ammo ban" but a "reclassification" - but the effect would be the same. Those calibers of ammo would be restricted export items for American companies.

Another whispered action, the requirement that all firearms require DSP-83 End Use Certificates (and the $250 export fee per firearm) was also apparently couched as another reclassification. Again, not a ban, but a very effective "non-ban" on gun sales.

Fortunately, we're starting to hear some denials of these ideas - from both sides of the border. The denials are coming from some normally anti-gun politicians in Canada, leading our sources in Parliament to suspect the protests from Canadian gun owners had an impact. As expected, our officials "can't comment on something that's only been proposed" but it seems the idea may be losing steam. And it should.

Another story from Washington is getting its share of attention. President Obama's administration is defending - at least for now - the rule enacted by President Bush in his final days as president that allows concealed carry in national parks. That's not an unconditional bit of support, but it's jaw-dropping for many of us who have a hard time seeing the current administration supporting anything to do with firearms.

The qualification on the support is based on the fact the administration is also looking to determine whether the Bush measure follows environmental filing procedures. It's a small detail, but one the Brady Campaign, the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Coalition of National Park Service Retirees have used as a basis for a lawsuit seeking to overturn the rule. They argue the regulation was enacted without the requisite environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. They also proffered the position that the concealed carry rule might prevent some visitors and school groups from going to the national parks.

The Justice Department filed a response that says the new rule "does not alter the environmental status quo, and will not have any significant impacts on public health and safety."

Despite that response, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has asked for an internal assessment of whether the measure might, in fact, have any environmental impacts that need be taken into account.

We'll keep you posted.

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