Reuters reported that the U.S. Commerce Department put a temporary halt to the issuance of export licenses for the majority of civilian firearms and ammunition on Friday.
They cited “national security and foreign policy interests” as the reason for this halt, which will last for 90 days.
“The review will be conducted with urgency and will enable the Department to more effectively assess and mitigate risk of firearms being diverted to entities or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights, or fuel criminal activities,” the agency said.
The prohibition covers a wide array of firearms, including semiautomatic and non-automatic firearms such as shotguns and optical sights.
The temporary halt in exports will hit major U.S. firearms producers like Sturm Ruger & Co., Smith & Wesson Brands, and Vista Outdoor directly. It will also impact significant markets for American gun manufacturers, including Brazil, Thailand, and Guatemala, as reported by Bloomberg.
Yet, the temporary halt on export licenses doesn’t extend to Israel, Ukraine, and approximately 40 other nations that participate with the U.S. in a multilateral export-control agreement.
Experts in the industry promptly highlighted the uncommon nature of the Commerce Department’s decision. Johanna Reeves, an attorney specializing in export controls and firearms, informed Reuters that she had never witnessed such a sweeping action before.
“For sure they have individual country policies — but nothing like this,” she stated.
As reported by Bloomberg:
The Commerce Department is halting exports of most US-made firearms for 90 days and reviewing its support of the country’s biggest gun trade show to ensure it “does not undermine US policy interests” — steps that could slow two decades of growth of gun sales abroad.
While the department gave no indication of what long-term changes it will make, the review could alter or even reverse a set of notably pro-industry policies that have helped domestic manufacturers expand sales abroad.
Those include shifting in 2020 the oversight of most commercial gun exports from the State Department to the business-friendly Department of Commerce and strong support for the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, known as SHOT Show, a gun marketing expo that occurs every January in Las Vegas.
The gun industry’s successful strategies to increase global sales of its products — in combination with friendly US policies — have been the subject of a months-long investigation by Bloomberg. The investigation began in July with an examination of gun sales to Thailand, which last year suffered one of the world’s worst mass killings. A story published Oct. 19 examined the lavish support the Commerce Department gives SHOT Show, including steering more than 3,200 international buyers to the event this year.
The Commerce Department declined to comment further when asked to explain the reason for the pause and for details of its review of the support it provides SHOT Show.
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