- Lawmakers ask the US commerce department to curb gun exports in the country.
- They wrote that they are concerned about Commerce Department actions that have weakened oversight of assault weapons and high-capacity magazine exports, padding the gun industry’s profits while putting deadly weapons in the hands of corrupt actors worldwide.
According to the letter, Congressional Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, have asked the US Commerce Department to curb assault weapons exports and increase oversight of gun exports after a Trump-era ruling to smoothen firearms export laws pushed sales up.
The letter, signed by Warren, Senator Chris Murphy and US Representative Joaquin Castro, was sent to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
The lawmakers wrote that they have grave concern about Commerce Department actions that have weakened oversight of assault weapons and high-capacity magazine exports, padding the gun industry’s profits while putting deadly weapons in the hands of corrupt actors worldwide.
In 2020, President Donald Trump’s administration smoothened firearms exports when it moved export license oversight from the US State Department to the Commerce Department.
The rule change was anticipated to increase business for gunmakers like Smith & Wesson Brands Inc (SWBI.O) and Sturm Ruger & Co Inc (RGR.N). At the time, a lobbying group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, estimated that relaxing the rules could improve foreign gun sales by as much as 20%.
However, in the first 16 months, since the Commerce Department took over firearm export licensing, it approved approximately $16 billion worth of licenses. The lawmakers, citing US government data, said that was a 30% increase from when the State Department controlled firearms licensing.
In a statement, Warren said it is hard to see how the Commerce Department’s increased approvals for assault weapons exports are consistent with the Administration’s gun safety plan and commitment to give back firearm license export controls to the State Department.
Warren and the other Democrats also expressed concern that since taking over oversight, the Commerce Department had denied 0.4% of license applications and approved 95%.
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