Legally Armed: V23N4

By Johanna Reeves, Esq.

The Intersection of U.S. Anti-Discrimination Laws with Export Controls and Federal Firearms Laws (Part 1 of a two-part series.)

Businesses that engage in manufacturing firearms, other munitions or other defense articles may think it prudent to restrict employment to U.S. persons. At first glance, this approach may seem logical. After all, the production of firearms is subject to the strict technology controls of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), Title 22, U.S. Code, Chapter 39, its implementing regulations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Title 22 Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 120-130 and the restrictions on transfers to and possession by certain persons under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), Title 18 U.S. Code, Chapter 44.

While there are indeed statutory controls on what information pertaining to the manufacture of firearms can be shared with non-U.S. persons, or who can possess firearms, it is important that U.S. businesses take all necessary precautions to avoid violating the anti-discrimination laws that may apply to their operations. Failure to abide by these laws may result in stiff fines and penalties. In this two-part series, we will walk through the intersection of U.S. anti-discrimination laws, U.S. export control requirements, and Federal firearms laws.

I. What is Discrimination?

Before we delve into the intersection of these laws, it is important to understand the basic definition of “discrimination.” In the most general terms, to discriminate means to mark or perceive the distinguishing or peculiar features of someone or something, distinguish, to recognize or identify as separate or distinct or to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit. See Merriam-Webster Dictionary, merriam-webster.com (last visited Jan. 9, 2019). Federal law prohibits unfair or unequal treatment of an individual or group because of certain characteristics, such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, national origin, race or religion. This article focuses on employment discrimination, which happens when an employer gives different or negative treatment toward a current employee, former employee or job applicant. It is important that we draw an initial distinction though: treating a person...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V23N4 (April 2019)
and was posted online on February 22, 2019


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