The U.S. Department of Commerce has announced that it will temporarily suspend the issuance of export licenses for civilian firearms and ammunition to non-government entities for a period of 90 days. This decision comes as a result of concerns related to national security and foreign policy.
While the agency did not provide specific details about the suspension, it did express concern over the potential diversion of firearms to groups or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights, or fuel criminal activities. This move is part of a larger evaluation being conducted by the department.
Johanna Reeves, an attorney at Reeves & Dola in Washington DC specializing in export controls and firearms, noted that this suspension applies to a wide range of firearms and ammunition that are typically available for purchase in U.S. gun stores. She mentioned that this is an unprecedented action by the Commerce Department, as there has been no previous instance of such a move. Individual country policies exist, but nothing on this scale.
It is important to note that the temporary freeze on exports will not apply to export licenses for Ukraine, Israel, and certain other close allies. However, American firearms firms, such as Sturm Ruger & Co, Smith & Wesson Brands, and Vista Outdoor, may be impacted by the prohibition on exports. These companies typically sell their products to foreign distributors and retailers.
During the suspension, exporters are still allowed to submit license applications, but these applications will be put on hold and no further action will be taken until the suspension is lifted. The Department of Commerce clarified that the suspension does not apply to export licenses that have already been granted.
For shipments intended for governmental clients, exporters must clearly specify the exact end users. Applications that do not clearly identify government, military, or police end users will be rejected and returned without further action.
The temporary suspension of export licenses is part of the U.S. government’s efforts to ensure that firearms and ammunition do not end up in the wrong hands or contribute to regional instability. By evaluating and reassessing export policies, the Department of Commerce aims to strengthen national security and advance foreign policy objectives.
It is expected that this suspension will have an impact on the firearms industry, both domestically and internationally. However, by prioritizing national security and foreign policy concerns, the U.S. government believes it is taking a necessary step to safeguard against potential risks associated with the export of firearms and ammunition.