Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

AUGUST 22, 2021 : NRA-ILA

The Biden Administration’s Department of State announced that it will soon prohibit the importation of Russian ammunition into the United States. According to a release on the Department of State’s website, “[n]ew and pending permit applications for the permanent importation of firearms and ammunition manufactured or located in Russia will be subject to a policy of denial.”

While the new policy appears to prohibit the importation of both firearms and ammunition, the importation of Russian origin firearms was already heavily restricted under past executive policies. The primary effect of this new policy will be on Russian origin ammunition.

The State Department claims that it is imposing these “sanctions on the Russian Federation over its use of a “Novichok” nerve agent in the August 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny.” While that may be a viable reason for the United States government to sanction the Russian Federation, the ammunition import restriction seems more aimed at punishing American gun owners and businesses than as a foreign policy tool to influence the Russian Federation.

Ammunition exports to the United States are only a small percentage of the GDP of the Russian Federation, but Russian origin ammo makes up a large part of the American ammunition supply. American gun owners were already suffering from a market where demand was exceeding available supply. This new move by the Biden Administration will severely worsen the present supply problems.

The release goes on to note that the new policy:

will take effect upon the publication of a Federal Register notice expected on September 7, 2021, and they will remain in place for a minimum of 12 months. The sanctions can only be lifted after a 12-month period if the Executive Branch determines and certifies to Congress that Russia has met several conditions . . . including (1) providing reliable assurances that it will not use chemical weapons in violation of international law, (2) it is not making preparations to use chemical weapons in the future, (3) it is willing to allow international inspectors to verify those assurances, and (4) it is making restitution to Mr. Navalny.

While this delayed implementation date may seem to make a rush to approve new ammunition shipments possible, it’s not clear that ATF will provide any type of rush approval for the Form 6s necessary to lawfully import ammunition into the United States. These forms often take six or more weeks to get approved, so ATF delays may prevent any new shipments being approved for importation.

It appears that importers will be able to continue to import ammunition that was already approved prior to the publication of the notice in the Federal Register. That ammunition will likely be rapidly consumed due to present demand for ammunition in the United States.

The full effect of this new policy will likely not be realized for a few months, but it will certainly lead to more ammunition shortages, higher prices, and therefore fewer Americans excising their fundamental rights. It may also result in the shuttering of American small businesses that rely heavily on the importation of Russian ammunition. All of this is of course by design for the Biden Administration.

We will continue to keep all NRA members informed of this newest overreach by President Biden on his crusade against law-abiding American gun owners. NRA is reviewing all political, legislative, and legal options to fight this new policy.

AMMUNITION RECALL – Serious Risk of Firearm Damage and Personal Injury

Always be alert for the occurrence of a squib load and the possibility of a barrel obstruction.

If you do not know what a SQUIB LOAD is and how to recognize it, it is strongly suggested you learn ASAP.

Technically defined, a squib load is an underpowered charge. That underpowered charge could result in a barrel obstruction.

A squib load is most notably recognized by an odd sound. While shooting, should you hear an odd sound, a sound different from the big bang, kaboom or crack, you normally hear or only heard when firing that last volley of shoots, CEASE FIRE immediately, following safe gun handling practices, inspect the gun for a barrel obstruction.

Firing another round, following a squib load, that resulted in a barrel obstruction, could result in the firearm blowing up in your hand and you loosing parts of your hand as a result.

Number 1 . . .

Number 2 . . .

The recalls above are the most recent (June 21, 2021) of two known ones. At the pace manufactures are turning out ammunition, in an attempt to catch up with backorders, quality control has diminished. Always be alert for the occurrence of a squib load and the possibility of a barrel obstruction. It can happen with any ammunition domestic or imported. Be vigilant, be alert, be safe.

Biden’s Gun Control By Executive Order

Anti-gun Senators and Mayors Push Biden on Executive Gun Controls

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd speaks on Joe Biden’s gun control proposal.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd on Biden’s gun control proposals.

Anti-gun Senators and Mayors Push Biden on Executive Gun Controls

NRA-ILA :: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2021

Following a year filled with the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread civil unrest, Americans are in no rush to enact further gun controls. According to data from a January Gallup poll, 42 percent of Americans are satisfied with the current gun control laws. The poll also found that 9 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with current firearms laws, but want them to be made less strict. Therefore, according to the survey, a majority of Americans (51 percent) either want gun control laws to remain the same or to be made less restrictive.

Sensing a dearth of popular support for their gun control schemes, anti-gun politicians are urging President Joe Biden to act unilaterally to restrict firearms. This week, a group of 12 Senate Democrats led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Biden that urged the president to nominate a permanent director to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and empower them to enact a raft of executive gun control measures. In a similar vein, a group of big-city mayors that included Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot penned a CNN opinion piece that called on the president to attack gun rights through executive action.

According to the Senators’ letter, “the next Director of the ATF must be committed to enacting policies that will allow the agency to fulfill its mission to protect communities and combat gun violence.” According to the group, in order to do this the next director must adopt the following priorities: 

1. Implement regulations to stop the proliferation of ghost guns.

2. Issue a new regulation clarifying which gun sellers must get dealer licenses and run

background checks.

3. Modernize, strengthen, and prioritize oversight of the gun industry.

4. Ensure public transparency by disseminating robust statistical data.

5. Update critical reports and develop new ways to affirmatively share information about

gun trafficking and the source of crime guns.

6. Require FFLs to notify the Department of Justice every time they complete a gun sale

where a background check has been initiated but not completed to ensure the

prioritization of completing background checks where a sale has been made.

Some of the items are vague, but others directly correspond to policies that have repeatedly been rejected by the American public through their elected representatives.

The first item on the anti-gun senators’ wish list would restrict Americans’ right to make their own firearms for personal use by further regulating unfinished frames and receivers.

Concerning these items, the current federal statute and regulations are clear. Federal law defines a “firearm” to include “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive” and “the frame or receiver of any such weapon.” In the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), “firearm frame or receiver” is further defined as “That part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel.”

In order to target unfinished frames and receivers, ATF would likely attempt to broaden the definition of “firearm frame or receiver” in the CFR. Such a change is inadvisable and would at the very least require a formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act.

By targeting the materials Americans use to make their own firearms, ATF would be striking at the core of the Second Amendment right in a manner that has no basis in the text, history, and tradition of the right. Since long before the founding, Americans have enjoyed the right to make their own firearms for personal use without government interference. 

The second wish list item is something of an Obama-era retread. Having failed to criminalize the private transfer of firearms by means of legislation in 2013, in 2015 the Obama administration explored restricting the private transfer of firearms through executive action.

Federal law (18 U.S.C. § 922(a)) provides,

(a) It shall be unlawful–

(1) for any person–

(A) except a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer, to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or in the course of such business to ship, transport, or receive any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce; or

Therefore, a person may not “engage in the business” of dealing firearms without a Federal Firearms License. Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), of course, are required to consult the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before transferring a firearm to a non-dealer.

The term “engaged in the business,” as it pertains to firearms dealers, is defined by statute (18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(21)) as,

a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms;

Notice that the language does not contain a specific number of firearm sales or transfers that triggers the definition of “engaged in the business.” The language in the definition was carefully crafted to exempt individuals selling and trading firearms in and out of their private collections, no matter the frequency or volume. Rather, it is when a person sells firearms “as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit” that a person must obtain Federal Firearms License.

Enacting this statutory definition of “engaged in the business” was a key component of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986. Prior to FOPA, ATF had targeted private individuals at gun shows who sold a few firearms out of their private collections on multiple occasions.

In the end, the Obama administration correctly determined that they did not have the authority to limit the private transfer of firearms by executive fiat. Instead, the administration issued a 15-page guidance document that summarized existing law concerning firearms dealing.

Though vague, wish list items four and five appear targeted at the Tiahrt Amendment. This important piece of legislation restricts the dissemination of certain law enforcement data on firearms traces. Prior to the Tiahrt Amendment, the often-misleading data had been abused by gun control advocates to push gun control measures and attack the firearms industry.

Further, the release of this sensitive data had the potential to imperial law enforcement officers. Writing in support of the Tiahrt Amendment, the National President of the Fraternal Order of Police explained “releasing sensitive information about pending cases can jeopardize the integrity of an investigation or even place the lives of undercover officers in danger.” Though the amendment restricts the dissemination of trace data, it does ensure law enforcement can access this information for legitimate investigative purposes.

Item six is an attempt to undermine the NICS’s three-day safety-valve provision by intimidating FFLs into not transferring a firearm even when they are permitted by law to do so.

Under federal law, if a NICS check is delayed for further research and the FBI’s NICS section is unable to determine that the prospective firearm transferee is prohibited from possessing firearms under federal or state law three business days after the check was initiated by a firearms dealer, the firearms transfer may proceed at the dealer’s option. This provision encourages the FBI to conduct NICS checks in an efficient manner and prevents the government from arbitrarily denying an individual their Second Amendment rights through an indefinite delay. According to the 2019 NICS Operations Report only 70 percent of NICS checks that year resulted in an “instant determination,” with the remaining 30 percent requiring some analysis or additional research. 

The proposed requirement that FFLs report lawful firearm transfers to the Department of Justice, who through ATF has control over their license, is an obvious attempt to bully gun dealers into cutting off this vital safety-valve. Moreover, there is no statutory language supporting such a scheme. 

In addition to Mayor Lightfoot, the CNN column was authored by United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) President and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. In the piece, the mayors offered a vaguer call for executive action than their more sophisticated federal allies, but explicitly demanded action on “ghost guns” and “strengthening the background check system.”

As the piece pointed out, the mayors are all members of finance tycoon Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Moreover, the group contended that their anti-gun initiative was the result of the winter meeting of the USCM.

The USCM is a handgun prohibitionist organization. In June 1972, USCM adopted a policy resolution on handgun control that called for the abolition of private handgun ownership. The resolution stated,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the United States Conference of Mayors takes a position of leadership and urges national legislation against the manufacture, importation, sale, and private possession of handguns, except for use by law enforcement personnel, military and sportsmen clubs;

In 2008, USCM joined with Legal Community Against Gun Violence (now Giffords) in a friend of the court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court Case District of Columbia v. Heller that argued in favor of upholding Washington, D.C.’s unconstitutional handgun ban. 

It is unsurprising that members of a group that believes the Second Amendment does not constrain their power to enact gun control would believe that the U.S. Constitution and federal law should not constrain President Biden’s.

In late 2015, Obama tasked his White House with doing everything within their lawful authority to pursue gun control through executive action. Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said of Obama’s administrative gun control efforts, “he has asked his team to scrub existing legal authorities to see if there’s any additional action we can take administratively…The President has made clear he’s not satisfied with where we are, and expects that work to be completed soon.” In remarks announcing the new actions, Obama stated “we’re going to do everything we can to ensure the smart and effective enforcement of gun safety laws that are already on the books…”Further, a press release that accompanied the announcement of these measures, stated, “The President and Vice President are committed to using every tool at the Administration’s disposal to reduce gun violence.”

The executive branch has not been granted further power to regulate firearms since the Obama administration “scrub[bed]” the law for avenues to attack gun owners by presidential fiat. The measures advanced by this anti-gun cadre of U.S. Senators and mayors are willful perversions of federal law that NRA stands ready to oppose.

The Surge Continues – January 2021 Gun Sales Up Nearly 80 Percent

January 2021 now holds the record for most NICS checks conducted by the FBI in any single month.

Shooting IllustratedGuy J. Sagi : Thursday, February 4, 2021

More than 2.2 million firearms were sold in the United States in January, according to an estimate from Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF). The number, which represents a 79-percent increase when compared to the same period last year, is based on the volume of records processed through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Purchases made by people with a valid carry permit in regions that do not require the duplicative check, and some private transactions, are not reflected in the federal figures.

The news comes on the heels of 2020 shattering all previous high-water marks for gun purchases in the nation. SAAF estimates that of the 39,695,315 NICS checks conducted last year, roughly 23 million were firearm-sale related. Administrative use of the system, which includes concealed-carry permit application and renewal, account for the rest of the volume.

January 2021 now holds the record for most NICS checks conducted by the FBI in any single month. A total of 4,317,804 were processed. The system began operation in 1998, but until last month failed to reach the 4 million mark, despite December and June of 2020 coming in at 3,937,066 and 3,931,607, respectively.

Most experts agree last year’s upswing was fueled largely by home- and self-defense concerns due to the ongoing pandemic and periods of civil unrest, although politics contributed significantly to January’s spike, according to SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer.

“January 2021 certainly started off with a sales ‘bang’ due to the turmoil surrounding the confirmation and inauguration of Mr. Biden as the new U.S. President,” he said. “The 79-percent year-over-year increase, however, was not unprecedented—an even higher increase, of just over 100 percent, was experienced in January 2013, the month Mr. Obama’s second presidential term began.”

By comparison, the total number of NICS checks performed in January 2013 came in at only 2,495,440, roughly 1.8 million fewer than last month.

The Great Ammo Crisis – The Truth Behind The Shortage

The perfect storm.

NRA Shooting Illustrated
by Caleb Giddings – Friday, February 5, 2021

Everyone is aware of the ammunition crisis. Major media outlets have covered it, it’s all over what little of your social media feed hasn’t been censored, and I’ve been covering in detail since July. The ammo crisis has been constantly evolving, starting as a mere shortage in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns, and progressing to a full-blown crisis as I write this 321 days after March 13th.

What caused it?

The simple explanation is that demand exceeded the supply, then continued to exceed the supply. But to understand how that happened you have to go a little deeper. According to Jason Vanderbrink, President of Federal, CCI, Speer and Remington, before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was considerable excess capacity in the ammunition market.

Manufacturers could make more than they could sell, so supply was abundant and prices were low. You could order a case of 9 mm off the Internet for $200. Manufacturers were prepared for an uptick in sales that normally accompanies a presidential election, but the excess capacity would have been enough to cover that.

2020 had other ideas. The first was the COVID-19 pandemic. Then a summer of civil unrest that sometimes turned violent. A hotly contested presidential election, and then the party of gun control having control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency.

Any single one of those would have spiked demand, but all these factors happening in rapid succession was more than the market could bear. Partly because the NSSF estimates that 7 million new gun owners entered the market in 2020. As Vanderbrink pointed out, if those 7 million new gun owners each bought 100 rounds of ammo, that’s 700 million rounds that the market needs to produce.

To put that in context, the entire commercial market in 2018 made approximately 8 billion rounds. An 8.75 increase in demand wouldn’t shut everything down, but when it’s added on top of the demand created by all the other factors, it becomes too much.

How high is demand?

During a media presentation at Virtual SHOT Show 2021, Winchester said that if they stopped taking orders for .22 LR right now, it would take 2 years to fill all the back-orders. In December, the Vista family of companies, which comprises Federal, CCI, Speer, and Remington, announced they had a $1 billion backlog in orders. In the first 3 months of the COVID-19 lockdown, Winchester experienced a 17-percent surge in orders, which hasn’t tapered off.

Why can’t they build more factories?

The first question on people’s minds is “Why don’t these companies expand capacity?” That’s much easier said than done. Vista, for example, is already running three shifts a day, and operating 24/7. The same is true for Magtech in Brazil. For one of these companies to add capacity, they’d have to build a new space, and buy new machines, and train and staff the new machines.

All that while hoping that the bottom doesn’t fall out of the ammo market like it did in 2017. That investment in extra space costs millions of dollars and takes years to pay off, and if you look at past trends in the ammo market, not even this surge will last forever.

Why are prices so high at the consumer level?

Vista, Winchester, and Magtech/S&B announced a 15-percent price increase to distributors. Distributors have already raised prices, and of course at the retail level prices are coming up. Prices have to come up to create equilibrium. Eventually the cost to the consumer will be high enough that people won’t panic buy 9 mm FMJ. Retailers will start to have more stock than they can sell and prices will start to come down.

The manufacturer price increase helps as well. In a letter to distributors, Vista announced that all back orders would ship with the higher price. If this causes people to cancel their back order, that frees up theoretical capacity to go into the market. Using AmmoSeek to track historical 9 mm prices, the online price for 9 mm seems to have plateaued at between $0.80 and $0.90 per round for quality new manufactured 9 mm, which is actually a good sign.

Why can’t I get primers?

Only two domestic companies make primers, Vista and Winchester. All their primers are going into their production ammo for retail. Normally, the primer market is fed by companies being able to make more primers than they’d ever need to make loaded ammo. In 2020 and now 2021, that’s not been the case, so every primer that rolls off the line is going into a loaded piece of ammunition so the consumers can have something to immediately shoot. It’s a tough situation for reloaders, but the priority will always be the commercial shooting market.

What about the government?

To answer the question right off the bat, no, the government is not buying ammo and stockpiling it in a warehouse somewhere to keep it off the market. The largest government consumer of ammunition is the Department of Defense, and the majority of their ammo comes from the Lake City plant, which is currently administered by Winchester. Lake City is owned entirely by the government—all the machines, all the land, etc. The government then contracts its operation to private companies, with Winchester taking over for Northrop Grumman in 2020.

Other federal agencies and local LE agencies do source from private manufacturers, but they’re getting squeezed too. Federal contracts are public record, and there has been no unusual ammo related purchasing activity since the shortage began in March. Local LE agencies don’t have the purchasing power to cause a shortage like this, unless there was some secret meeting of all the police chiefs in the country to secretly buy all the ammo (there wasn’t). While it might feel good to believe there’s some sinister force behind the ammo crisis, the answer is a slightly more complicated version of “supply and demand.”

What are the companies doing about it?

As noted above, everything they can. Mike Fisher, the VP of Sales and Marketing at Magtech, said in a phone call, “We’re doing everything we can to get product to our loyal customers. We’ve worked hard to build these relationships and getting them ammo, so they can get it to the consumer, is our first priority.”

In a video statement, Jason Hornady said that they have made a third more ammo this year than they did in the previous year, and also pointed out that there is no government conspiracy to make ammo scarce. As noted above, the price increases across the board will eventually have a stabilizing effect on the supply of ammo, as it will eventually reach a point where most people won’t feel the need to buy.

You can help as well. The most important thing you can do as a consumer is don’t panic. Ammo is available. AmmoSeek shows a daily inventory of what its bots find in stock. There’s ammo for sale on GunBroker and ArmsList. It’s more expensive than any of us would want, but it’s better to have it available than to have empty shelves. The second most important thing you can do is “don’t be that guy.”

You know that guy—the one who finds 55-grain .223 at a great price and cleans the whole place out. That guy sucks. Buy what you need and maybe a little more, but don’t buy 10,000 rounds of ammo you’re going to end up trying to flip to make a car payment in 6 months.

Last, stop repeating conspiracy theories. Contrary to what your favorite YouTube entertainer told you, there’s no government or industry conspiracy to drive up the price of ammo.

When will it get better?

In my first article about this, I optimistically thought that if Republicans retained control of the Senate, we’d be back to normal supply levels with slightly increased pricing by July. Given the state of the back orders, I don’t think we’ll see a return to regular levels of supply now until early 2022.

As far as pricing? Sometime after supply gets back to normal level, and that’s assuming that nothing weird happens in 2021 (everyone knock on wood right now). Right now the best thing to do is stay calm, don’t panic buy, and let the ammo industry do everything they can to get caught up.

When Ammunition Reloading Goes Wrong

Two people injured during explosion in Venice

VENICE, Fla. – Two people were injured in a house explosion in Venice Thursday afternoon, according to Sarasota County Fire Rescue. It happened at 120 Sunset Beach Drive in Venice. Firefighters say two people were refilling (reloading) ammunition with gunpowder in a garage next to a home when the explosion occurred.

Related articles . . . .

Three Injured in Explosion at Frostproof Gun Range

By Anya Zentmeyer / THE LEDGER – Oct 18, 2013

FROSTPROOF | Three people were injured in an explosion Friday at the Universal Shooting Academy near Frostproof.
According to reports from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, which assisted the State Fire Marshall in responding to the accident, the explosion at the facility at 4330 County Road 630 E occurred at 10:43 a.m.
Reports said employees Cody Hutto, Tyler Rodgers and Kelley Fazzini were depriming ammunition in the academy’s ammo room when for a reason still unknown, a primer ignited and caused an explosion in the building.
Hutto, 21, was struck by a piece of shrapnel to his right calf causing a laceration and by multiple pieces of small shrapnel, one of which appeared to have struck him in or near his right eye, officials said. He was flown to Lakeland Regional Medical Center where he was in stable with no serious injuries.
Rodgers, 18, was also struck with small pieces of shrapnel on his right arm and right leg. Both he and Fazzinni, 30, experienced a loud ringing in their ears as a result of the explosion. Neither party had serious injuries. Fazzini drove himself and Rodgers to Florida Hospital in Sebring.
The shooting academy is a venue for firearms competition and training. It offers military, law enforcement, and competition training at the 25-acre facility, according to its website.