In United States v. Stines, No. 20-11035 (May 31, 2022) (Wilson, Luck, Lagoa), the Court affirmed the defendant’s sentence for unlawfully exporting weapons.
Ordinarily, under U.S.S.G. 2M5.2(a), the unlawful exportation of weapons carries a base offense level of 26, but there is an exception carrying a base offense level of 14 where the offense involved only non-fully automatic small arms, and the number of weapons did not exceed two. In this case, the defendant exported 23 weapons parts that could be converted into only two fully assembled weapons. The Court agreed that the exception could apply to weapons parts, not just fully assembled weapons. However, the Court held that the exception did not apply in this case because the number of parts could service more than two weapons. Although this reading would mean that exporting three triggers alone would produce a higher base offense level than exporting two fully assembled firearms, that did not create an absurd result. The Court also held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the district court’s refusal to grant a downward departure under the Guidelines.
Judge Luck concurred, opining that the exception did not apply to gun parts because those were not “small arms.” Judge Lagoa authored a concurrence disagreeing on that point.