January 23, 2020 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, responded to the publication of the Trump Administration regulation to loosen restrictions on the export of firearms. Ignoring continued opposition, the White House finalized a regulation to weaken oversight of firearms and ammunition sales to foreign actors and entities by moving oversight from the US State Department’s US Munitions List (USML) to the US Department of Commerce’s Control List (CCL), where the rules and procedures regarding these transactions are less stringent.
Statement from Adzi Vokhiwa, federal affairs manager at Giffords:
“Once again, the Trump Administration chose gun industry profits over public safety. The Administration followed the whims of a president willing to use arms transactions for his own ends, without any regard for the very serious foreign policy concerns that come with this new regulation. Since this ill-conceived proposal was first announced nearly two years ago, human rights, arms control, and gun safety organizations repeatedly made it clear that oversight of firearms exports should remain with the State Department, which has the expertise to ensure that weapons do not fall into the wrong hands. The sale of firearms — domestically and abroad — deserves the highest level of scrutiny, and this regulation fails to offer much scrutiny at all.”
Background on the Trump Administration Proposal
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 US Munitions List (USML). The new regulation moves many of these weapons from the USML to the Commerce Department’s Commerce Control List (CCL). Besides physical guns themselves, the technical data regarding firearms—including the code for 3D printing guns—is currently on the USML. Posting this code online constitutes an export of that technical data.
By moving these items onto the CCL, the regulation reduces State Department and congressional oversight regarding gun exports, and eliminates 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.