Biden Administration Freezes Firearm Exports Pending Review, Claims ‘US Policy Interests’

The Department of Commerce has put a 90-day pause on most civilian gun exports. The department said it was acting to ensure its firearms sales policy “does not undermine US policy interests,” according to Bloomberg. The Commerce Department did not explain the reason for the action in detail, but said it was to evaluate the “risk of firearms being diverted to entities or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights, or fuel criminal activities,” according to Reuters. The halt covers most firearms and ammunition that would be available for sale in an American gun store, Johanna Reeves, a lawyer with Reeves & Dola in Washington, told Reuters. Reeves said the action was unprecedented. “For sure they have individual country policies – but nothing like this,” she said, according to Reuters. According to Fox Business, the pause will not cover about 40 nations that have individual export agreements for guns. Those countries include Israel and Ukraine, Countries such as Brazil, Thailand, and Guatemala will be affected, Bloomberg reported. Bloomberg noted that in 2020, oversight of gun exports was moved from the State Department to the Commerce Department. Companies such as Sturm Ruger & Co., Vista Outdoor, and Smith & Wesson Brands could be affected, Reuters wrote. Fox Business reported that government customers in other nations would need to explain who will end up with any guns purchased, and that any applications to buy them will not be processed without that information. Civilian applications from abroad to buy American-made guns will be “held without action,” Fox Business reported. Last month, Democratic lawmakers criticized the Commerce Department for its gun export policies. A release on the website of Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas publicized a letter Castro and other congressional Democrats sent to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo “In March 2020, the Trump administration transferred oversight of [assault weapons exports] from the State Department to Commerce, after which the value of assault weapon export license approvals immediately shot up by roughly 30 percent, profiting gun manufacturers while putting civilians at risk around the world,” the letter stated. “This problem may be getting worse – yet your Department has not published updated annual data — which will soon be a full year late — or responded to a congressional inquiry. Meanwhile, new reporting indicates that the Department continues to serve as a ‘booster and concierge’ to the firearm industry – promoting exports of deadly weapons that find their way into the hands of terrorists and human rights abusers to be used in brutal killings across the globe.” After the export freeze became public, Castro welcomed the news, according to Bloomberg. “For too long, firearms from the United States have contributed to violence and instability abroad,”  he said after the ban was announced.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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