U.S. senator seeks to shoot down Trump bid to ease small arms exports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior U.S. senator said on Tuesday he sought to block President Donald Trump's plan to overhaul weapons export policy, setting the stage for a potential standoff over the administration's effort to make it easier for gun makers to sell small arms to foreign buyers

Reuters February 27, 2019 02:07:24 IST
U.S. senator seeks to shoot down Trump bid to ease small arms exports

US senator seeks to shoot down Trump bid to ease small arms exports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior U.S. senator said on Tuesday he sought to block President Donald Trump's plan to overhaul weapons export policy, setting the stage for a potential standoff over the administration's effort to make it easier for gun makers to sell small arms to foreign buyers.

Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would refuse to consent to the Trump administration's plan to transfer the export of small arms, including assault-style and sniper rifles and ammunition, to the Department of Commerce from the Department of State at least until he obtained more information about the plan.

Firearms "are easily modified, diverted, and proliferated, and are the primary means of injury, death, and destruction in civil and military conflicts throughout the world. As such, they should be subject to more, not less, rigorous export controls and oversight,” Menendez wrote in a letter sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday and released on Tuesday.

The administration notified Congress of the policy shift last month, part of a broad overhaul of export policy announced last year. The move would generate business for gun makers such as American Outdoor Brands and Sturm Ruger & Company.

There is a long-standing precedent in which a handful of lawmakers, including the ranking member of the minority party on the foreign relations committee, can object to and "hold" such a policy shift - or a weapons export deal.

In the past, administrations have respected such objections. But since they are not legally required to do so, it was not immediately clear whether the Trump administration would respond to Menendez's concerns and delay its plans or go ahead now that a 30-day review period is over.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump sees the U.S. weapons industry as an important source of U.S. jobs. Backers of the policy shift say foreign customers will merely obtain small arms from other countries if they are unable to make purchases from U.S. manufacturers.

The relaxing of rules could increase foreign gun sales by as much as 20 percent, the National Sports Shooting Foundation has estimated. As well as the industry's big players, the change could also help small gunsmiths and specialists who are currently required to pay an annual federal fee to export a relatively minor amounts of products.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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.