Exclusive: Trump administration rule changes to ease gun exports progress, sources

By Mike Stone and David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration has passed a key milestone in a long-delayed rule change that would make it easier to sell U.S. firearms outside the United States, including assault rifles and ammunition, people briefed on the matter told Reuters

Reuters November 08, 2019 01:13:29 IST
Exclusive: Trump administration rule changes to ease gun exports progress, sources

Exclusive Trump administration rule changes to ease gun exports progress sources

By Mike Stone and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration has passed a key milestone in a long-delayed rule change that would make it easier to sell U.S. firearms outside the United States, including assault rifles and ammunition, people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The proposed rule changes, which would move oversight of commercial firearm exports from the U.S. Department of State to the Department of Commerce, could be enacted as soon as the end of this year, the sources said late on Wednesday.

The move by President Donald Trump's administration may generate business for gun makers such as American Outdoor Brands and Sturm Ruger & Company while increasing the sale of deadly weapons abroad. A relaxing of rules could increase foreign gun sales by as much as 20%, the National Sports Shooting Foundation has estimated. While the State Department is primarily concerned with international threats to stability and maintains tight restrictions on weapons deals, the Commerce Department typically focuses on making it easier for U.S. companies to sell products overseas.

Since taking office, Trump has been a far more outspoken booster of U.S. weapons sales abroad than his recent predecessors, acting almost as a salesman for the U.S. defence industry, analysts have said. Any move that would boost arms sales is also likely to earn enthusiastic support from the influential National Rifle Association as Trump's re-election campaign heats up.

Critics, including some lawmakers and arms control advocates, have expressed concern that any easing of export rules could make powerful weapons of the type often used in U.S. mass shootings more accessible to criminal gangs and militant groups that Trump has vowed to fight.A review of the rules by multiple U.S. agencies including the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security concluded this week, the people said. Government records show the final rule was formally transmitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Oct. 23. This week's close of the interagency comment period was a key milestone that enables the Trump administration to put lawmakers on notice of the intent to transfer formal oversight to the weapons sales from State to Commerce. Top officials at both departments still need to sign off on the issue before legislators can be notified. Reuters first reported on the Trump administration's interest in the oversight shift in 2017 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-weapons-exclusive/exclusive-trump-administration-prepares-to-ease-export-rules-for-u-s-guns-idUSKCN1BU2N8. The action is part of a broader Trump administration overhaul of weapons export policy https://www.reuters.com/article/us-trump-effect-drones-exclusive/exclusive-game-of-drones-u-s-poised-to-boost-unmanned-aircraft-exports-idUSKBN1CG0F4.

The effort to streamline U.S. small arms export controls dates back to an Obama administration initiative begun in 2009 that was never translated into policy.

"The Administration continues to work through the interagency process with the Departments of State, Commerce, Homeland Security, Justice, and other stakeholders to reexamine longstanding polices and regulations to ensure that U.S. industries have every advantage in the global marketplace," a State Department spokesman said.

Representatives from the budget office and Commerce Department declined to comment.

BEAT THE CLOCK The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would prohibit the transfer of firearms export oversight to the Department of Commerce. But the bill containing the language, an annual defence policy bill called the National Defence Authorization (NDAA), has not passed the Senate and is not yet law. If the Trump administration moves to notify legislators of the planned change in the coming weeks, it could be enacted before passage of the NDAA, one of the people said. The Senate's version of the NDAA does not contain the same language as the House bill. The measure is being discussed by legislative staffs, the person said. Domestic gun sales have risen in the past three months, according to estimates released on Tuesday by research consultancy Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting. Sales are flat at 10.8 million units when compared to the same period a year earlier, SAAF said in the estimate.

(Reporting by Mike Stone and David Shapardson in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.