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Gun Sight Inserts Fall Under HTS Heading 9022, Importer Tells Trade Court

The classification of gun sight inserts that use tritium for powerless illumination in low light conditions are properly classified under Harmonized Tariff Schedule heading 9022 under the first General Rule of Interpretation (GRI), importer Trijicon argued in a Sept. 15 motion for summary judgment at the Court of International Trade (Trijicon v. United States, CIT # 22-00040).

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The subheading claimed by Trijicon, 9022.29.80, covers "[a]pparatus based on the use of alpha, beta or gamma radiations," among other descriptors. The importer said its imports "meet the definition of an 'apparatus.'" While the HTS does not define this term, dictionary definitions say an apparatus is a "set of materials or equipment for a particular use," or "a complex machine or device."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has defined the term as a "group of devices or a collection or set of materials, instruments or appliances to be used for a particular group or a given end," the brief said. Broadly defined, the word means a "combination or set of materials which are intended for some purpose or use."

In the case of the gun inserts, the products "cannot be reduced" to the tritium gas they contain, as CBP would have the court believe, but instead must be found to satisfy the definition of an "appratus" that "performs certain functions" and that are made up of a "set of materials" for a particular purpose, the brief said. The sight inserts are made of a set of materials and include "at least the glass capillary, the interior phosphor coating, and the tritium gas."

Trijicon expanded on its claim for heading 9022 by claiming that the sight inserts are based on the use of beta radiation. Heading 9022 is not limited to goods with a specific end-use, and CBP has confirmed that the heading is "neither a principal use provision, nor an actual use provision," the brief said. "The ultimate use of the subject merchandise does not bear on whether it can be classified within Heading 9022. Nor does Heading 9022 provide any minimum measure of radioactivity that a good must meet to be properly classified in the heading."

The importer also argued that its sight inserts are not "lamps under 9405 because the text of Heading 9405 proves that only lamps 'not elsewhere specified or included' in any other provision of the HTSUS can be properly classified under the heading." GRI 3 also provides evidence for Trijicon's preferred classification since subheading 9022 is more specific than 9405, the brief said.