Gun Manufacturers Want to Sell More Guns Abroad. The Trump Administration is Here to Help.

The M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System is used by the U.S. military and would be easier to sell abroad, increasing the risk of it being used against Americans. | U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Barry Loo.
The M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System is used by the U.S. military and would be easier to sell abroad, increasing the risk of it being used against Americans. | U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Barry Loo.

By Katherine Phillips, Giffords Federal Affairs Manager

The Trump Administration is proving yet again that they’ll easily bend to the will of the gun lobby and help them sell more firearms worldwide.

A new proposed rule would move the oversight of certain gun and ammunition exports from the State Department’s U.S. Munitions List to the Commerce Department’s Commerce Control List. On the surface, that might sound like a small administrative change, or one of the department restructures we’ve been hearing about lately – but it’s not. It’s a much bigger deal.

So, what does it mean?

It means exports of guns and ammunition like sniper rifles, semiautomatic assault rifles and pistols, and handguns used by Navy Seals and U.S. Special Forces would be subject to less strict oversight than they are now. Exporting these weapons to other countries, where they could fall into the wrong hands and potentially be used against Americans, would become easier.

It also means that Congress – which currently must be notified of these export deals over $1 million and has the ability to block those sales – would lose much of its oversight. It means companies might be able to easily share instructions to 3D-print guns, potentially letting practically anyone create guns that can’t be traced. It means that, to appease the gun industry and help them sell more guns, American firearms might be significantly more likely to fall into the hands of international criminals.

Until Monday, July 9, at 11:59PM ET, you can make your voice heard and tell the Administration this is a dangerous idea. Copy and paste the below comment, or write your own describing your concerns with the foreign policy and humanitarian implications of this rule change. Make sure to submit the comment to both the State Department and the Commerce Department.

On May 24, the Trump Administration formally proposed a new rule that would loosen regulations over gun exports, potentially increasing the risk that dangerous weapons may end up in the hands of international criminals. The proposed rule would dramatically change the regulatory structure for firearm exports. The proposed rule is complex and appears to be largely driven by the interests of industry. We are concerned that the proposed rule may not adequately address our national security, foreign policy, international crime, terrorist threats, or the need for transparency so Congress and the public may understand the impact of these rules and potential firearm exports. We are also concerned that the proposed rule fails to recognize the inherently military nature of many of the relevant firearms. Rather than moving forward with the proposed rule, the Administration should consider other alternatives to better balance the important interests at stake.

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