Press Release

Giffords Denounces Trump Administration for Loosening Restrictions on the Export of Firearms, Making Them More Likely to Fall Into the Hands of Dictators and Terrorists

Trump Administration Gives into Gun Lobby Demands for Looser Restrictions on the Sale of Firearms and Ammunition to Foreign Actors

Proposed Rule Moves Oversight on the Sale of Firearms and Ammunition to Foreign Actors from the State Department to the Department of Commerce where the rules regarding these transactions are less stringent, require less oversight

May 15, 2018 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, denounced the Trump Administration’s move today to loosen restrictions on the export of firearms. The proposed rule will move oversight on the sale of firearms and ammunition to foreign actors and entities from the U.S. State Department’s U.S. Munitions List (USML) to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Control List (CCL), where the rules regarding these transactions are less stringent. This change, pushed for by the gun lobby, could make it easier for terrorists, dictators, and other foreign actors to acquire weapons in troubled areas around the world.    

Statement from Robin Lloyd, Director of Government Affairs at Giffords:

“In their zeal to sell even more firearms, gun manufacturers have continuously pushed politicians in Washington, D.C. to make it easier to sell their products in foreign markets. Today’s announcement removes Congressional oversight and State Department expertise over small arms deals, setting a dangerous precedent that allows the Administration to act on its own and in the process create further instability in places where people are already suffering. Under the guise of reducing burdens to completing a sale, this Administration wants to make it easier for a dictator to use American firearms to oppress their people or for terrorists to build armories. It’s clear the Administration will do anything to appease the gun lobby – even if it means putting profits over the safety of people around the world.”  


Presidents have traditionally exercised their authority to control the export of “defense articles,” including most firearms and ammunition, through the State Department. Past administrations have done so by including all handguns, rifles and short-barreled shotguns, and certain kinds of ammunition on the U.S. Munitions List (USML). The proposed regulation would move many of these weapons from the USML to the Commerce Department’s Commerce Control List (CCL).  By moving these items onto the CCL, the proposed regulation would reduce State Department and Congressional oversight regarding gun exports, and would eliminate protections that prevent exported firearms from falling into the hands of human rights abusers and international criminal organizations. Giffords is disappointed by this move to subject dangerous firearms, including military-style assault weapons, to this weaker set of export regulations.