Feds to allow hunters to cross borders with guns
The Obama administration will stop blocking hunters from traveling internationally with their guns amid mounting congressional pressure.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in February began enforcing controversial export regulations that essentially prevented hunters from taking their guns and ammunition back and forth across the border.
After hunters protested, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) demanded this week that the agency withdraw the controversial policy during a meeting with Customs chief R. Gil Kerlikowske. House lawmakers also met with Kerlikowske about the matter.
Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Committee, which controls funding for Customs, said it is “not appropriate” for the agency to stand in the way of hunters exercising their Second Amendment rights.
Customs is withdrawing the controversial policy effective immediately.
“Until the chairman brought this up with me, I actually was unaware of the new protocol,” Kerlikowske told lawmakers Thursday.
“It made no sense to me to continue down this path, and by this afternoon we will be changing our website and our information,” he added.
Kerlikowske was testifying before a House appropriations subcommittee hearing Thursday when Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) said the policy makes it “almost impossible” for hunters to travel internationally with their guns.
“The Second Amendment is something that’s really quite important to me, as it is for millions of Americans,” Stewart said at the hearing. “I’m distressed at times by what I believe is an attempt by this administration to suppress, or to make more difficult, Second Amendment rights for Americans.”
At issue were export regulations that Customs began applying to hunters in February.
Under the rules, hunters were required to register with the IRS as a business so they could provide Customs with an employer identification number used to track their guns.
However, the IRS refused to register the hunters because they were not legitimate businesses, in what has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare for many sportsmen, according to Hoeven’s office.
Customers should “recognize the difference between a commercial exporter and a sportsman traveling on a hunting trip to Canada or another country,” Hoeven said.
“Hunters should not have to register as a business with the IRS in order to bring their weapons and ammunition on international hunting trips,” he added.
Hunters will now be required to fill out a paper form, but they will no longer have to provide an employer identification number.
—This story was updated at 2:30 p.m.
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