The United States Department of Commerce is considering a new rule that could significantly impact the international sales of American-made firearms.
The draft rule, obtained by The Reload, outlines measures to restrict civilian sales in numerous countries, including Israel and Ukraine, where demand for firearms has risen.
Biden’s actions prompt potential shift in U.S. gun export policy
This potential policy shift comes in the wake of the Biden Administration’s temporary halt on commercial gun exports to specific countries in the fall of this year.
President Joe Biden has been taking unilateral actions to tighten regulations on the gun industry.
This includes defending the bump stock ban initiated by former President Donald Trump and issuing executive orders targeting various aspects of firearm sales, such as unfinished firearm parts, pistol-braced guns, and used firearms on the private market.
Impact on international firearms trade
If implemented, the proposed rule could limit foreign civilians’ access to American-made firearms, affecting countries that have recently eased their gun laws due to increased demand.
For instance, Ukraine repealed several gun restrictions in 2022 amid Russia’s invasion, while Israel followed suit after acts of violence by Hamas terrorists.
Proposed rule targets global firearm exports
The draft rule suggests new restrictions for countries not part of the Wassenaar Arrangement, a global arms trade pact.
It focuses explicitly on semi-automatic firearms with certain features, requiring buyers to submit passport or national identity card information to American exporters.
The proposed changes also include shortening export license validity and requiring each sale to be matched to a specific purchase order.
Draft gun export rule sparks industry, legal experts’ concern
The draft rule has raised concerns both within the gun industry and among legal experts. Larry Keane, NSSF general counsel, views it as part of the Biden administration’s broader effort against the industry.
Johanna Reeves, a lawyer specializing in firearms law and federal export controls, describes the changes as “far-reaching” and potentially challenging for businesses overseas.
Gun industry voices concerns over proposed export restrictions
The gun industry fears a substantial reduction in legal export sales and emphasizes the potential burden on American exporters.
The proposal’s impact on the export of so-called “assault weapons” is criticized as a step backward, with concerns raised about the practicality of implementing the proposed system for tracking firearm buyers.
Draft rule targets global access to U.S. guns for national security
The draft rule argues that these changes are necessary to advance U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by restricting criminal access to American-made guns.
It cites an ATF report on international crime gun traces, suggesting that legally exported guns are sometimes recovered in foreign countries.
Draft rule sparks debate on national security and firearms trade
While the draft rule is not finalized, its potential implications have sparked debates about its effectiveness, feasibility, and the balance between national security and the firearms trade.
The Commerce Department has not provided a timeline for issuing a finalized proposal, and the current pause on gun exports is set to expire soon, leaving the industry and stakeholders closely monitoring the situation.