Update: After receiving thousands of comments, the Trump administration approved its gun export deregulation rule in February 2019. On February 26, 2019. Congressman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo placing a temporary hold on the proposed rules change. Menendez also introduced legislation in the House that would prohibit the transfer of regulatory authorities from State to Commerce. Thanks to everyone who submitted a comment! Let’s continue to fight this!
In response to lobbying by the NRA and the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the Trump administration has published a proposed rule that would remove critical export controls on handguns, semiautomatic assault rifles like the AR-15, .50-caliber sniper rifles and many other firearms.
Responsibility for oversight of these exports would be transferred from the State Department to the Commerce Department under Wilbur Ross, who has a disturbing past involving illicit business dealings with representatives of oppressive governments overseas. Congressional review of commercial weapon sales totaling $1 million or more would be eliminated outright.
The administration is seeking comments on the rule from the public, but the comment period ends on July 9th! Please click on the two links below to submit your comment to the Departments of State and Commerce (your comment can be the same for both agencies):
Industry and Security (Commerce): https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=BIS-2017-0004-0001
Feel free to use the following message as a template for your comment:
I am submitting this comment in strong opposition to the proposed rule to transfer oversight of small arms (firearms) exports from the State Department to the Commerce Department. This rule would make U.S. exports of small arms far more dangerous by transferring controls to an agency that prioritizes doing business over safeguarding national security. The rule’s elimination of congressional oversight of commercial weapons sales of $1 million or more is also reckless. This rule has one purpose only: to garner profits for a U.S. gun industry that is faring poorly in the domestic market. It comes after years of lobbying by the NRA and National Shooting Sports Foundation. No one elsed asked for it or wanted it. The NSSF, the trade group for the gun industry, has already boasted the rule would lead to a 20% increase in American gun exports. We see the gun lobby’s influence in the rule’s description of semiautomatic assault rifles like the AR-15 as “civilian” products. These weapons were not designed for household use, they were designed to kill en masse on the battlefield. That is why they are the weapons of choice for mass shooters. If you go forward with this disastrous policy, I will do everything in my power—peacefully and democratically—to hold your leadership accountable for the resulting global bloodshed. That will include advocating against your budget priorities across-the-board until a new, non-corrupt administration can come in and clean house.
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