Trump administration announced Friday it would pass oversight exports of some commercial firearms from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce, a stance aimed at doubling the sale of U.S. firearms and ammunition abroad.
The long-awaited rule amendment, which first took place under the Obama administration, is intended to lower costs at home for U.S. firearm makers such as Sturm, American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Ruger and Co., meanwhile turning attention on weapon sales that could result in risks for national security.
“Firearms and associate articles that works an inherently military function or bring the United States with a crucial military or intelligence surplus will remain under State Department export licensing controls,” Clarke Cooper the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs told reports on a call.
“When we are counseling about easing of certain aspects of the industry, it does open us up at State to pay attention to the relatively more significant systems and platforms that are inherently a part of the military function and do offer the U.S. a critical military advantage or an intelligence edge,” Clarke said.
The State to Commerce movement in the jurisdiction of certain firearm sales reflects that U.S. manufacturers are going to work fewer registration requirements to acquire an export license.
What Arms Export Control Act says about the commercial sale of firearms?
According to Arms Export Control Act, the U.S. Department of State must work to disclose any commercial arms sale worth $1 million or above to Congress for review. The Department of Commerce has no requirement of such kind.
Moreover, the State Department required a yearly fee from the industry, whereas Commerce does not require such a fee.
Blueprints for 3D printed guns will still be regulated under the new rule.
What Assistant Secretary of Commerce said?
“Clearly, among other benefits to this change include the business-friendly approach that Commerce carries to its licensing, and that is certainly the big one. Keeping in mind that a great percentage of firearms and equipment manufacturers are small businesses, that fee will really make a difference,” said Rich Ashooh, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration.
“Regardless of which department looks after the export, all firearms will stay subject to U.S. government export authorization requirements, interagency review, and scrutiny of commercial entities involved in sales and export,” said Ashooh.
The intent to move commercial gun export licenses to the U.S. Department of Commerce was near accomplished during the Obama administration when Adam Lanza, a gunman opened fire and killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton in early morning of December 2012. While the proposal was unrelated to domestic gun control, the Obama administration expelled the decision.
In 2018, Trump Administration officially proposed streamlining the course for exporting American firearms.