NRA claims Obama trying to issue gag order for gun blogs

President Obama

President Obama looking through a secret door in the oval office. (Photo: WhiteHouse.gov)

The National Rifle Association claims a jargon-laden proposed rule change by the State Department would censor online sources for firearm-related information.

“It’s happening again — President Obama is using his imperial pen and telephone to curb your rights and bypass Congress through executive action,” the NRA said in a news update Friday.

“Your action is urgently needed to ensure that online blogs, videos, and web forums devoted to the technical aspects of firearms and ammunition do not become subject to prior review by State Department bureaucrats before they can be published,” the gun lobby added.

In the update the NRA then launches into backstory, claiming the proposed rule stems from an overhaul of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, specifically the Arms Export Control Act. Among other things, the Act regulates information about defense-related items such missiles, planes, guns, etc. and what’s considered public domain.

The proposed rule change would revise the definition within the context of ITAR of several keywords including public domain, technical data, defense article, defense services, export, and reexport or retransfer. The goal is to limit or prevent the flow of unclassified defense-related information from traveling electronically overseas.

The State Department cites five Acts and six Executive Orders supporting the proposal. However, only one of the Executive Orders was issued by Obama. He signed the order “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review” in 2011. It mandates that any agency proposing a rule change must submit the change for public review for discussion and approval.

The State Department has opened the proposal for a public commenting period and also asks respondents to address three specific areas:

  1. How adequately the proposed regulations address the technical aspects of data transmission and storage;
  2. whether the proposed regulations mitigate unintended or unauthorized access to transmitted or stored data;
  3. and, whether the proposed regulations impose an undue financial or compliance burden on the public.

The commenting period closes Aug. 3. 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.”