The Commerce Department announced on Friday that, for a period of 90 days, it will halt the issuance of export licenses for civilian firearms and ammunition to non-governmental users in the United States.
The reason for this pause, as stated by the department, is to safeguard national security and uphold foreign policy interests. The halt encompasses an array of weapons, including shotguns and optical sights.
Although specific information was not provided, the Commerce Department emphasized the urgency of conducting a comprehensive evaluation to determine the potential of firearms being redirected to support activities that may destabilize regions, infringe on human rights, or contribute to criminal pursuits.
According to Washington-based lawyer Johanna Reeves from the law firm Reeves & Dola, the recent halt imposed by the Commerce Department covers a wide range of firearms and ammunition that are typically available for purchase in U.S. gun stores. Reeves noted that this action is unprecedented in its scope, as the Commerce Department previously focused on individual country policies. However, certain countries such as Ukraine and Israel, along with other close allies, will receive exemptions from this temporary export halt.
The export ban could potentially impact American firearm companies, including Sturm Ruger & Co., Smith & Wesson Brands, and Vista Outdoor, as they may face restrictions on selling their products abroad. Overseas customers, such as distributors and stores that specialize in firearms, will also be affected by this pause in exports.
While exporters are still allowed to submit license requests during this period, these requests will be put on hold until the export ban is lifted.
Some have posited that the possible reasons for this could be one or several of the following:
- To damage the domestic gun market
- Prevent weapons from getting into the hands of people we don’t want them to. (Although a lot of the weapons we have sent to Ukraine have ended up in the hands of unfriendly groups to the US.)
- The government is gearing up for war, and according to recent reports, US, NATO weapons stockpiles have become ‘dangerously low’:
- Just to see if they can get away with the ban and to see if they can destroy the US gun market.