State Department releases draft of relaxed export rules

The Department of State released a draft proposal this week easing export restrictions on firearms and ammunition.

The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls finally unveiled the suggested amendments to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) on Monday, shifting oversight of commercial arms sales to the Commerce Department and its Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

The rule change could give American manufacturers more leeway to sell guns internationally, creating more jobs stateside and adhering to the president’s “Buy American” policy platform. Lawrence Keane, senior vice president for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said in September relaxed restrictions would boost annual gun sales by as much as 20 percent.

“One of the guideposts we used in writing the proposed policy change was to look at what’s commercially available in sporting goods stores in the United States — products where the majority of the end users are not military,” a senior Commerce Department official told The Washington Times.

The proposal removes non-automatic and semi-automatic firearms from ITAR categories I and II. Corresponding parts and ammunition will no longer remain in category III. Firearms dealers large and small would no longer pay a $2,250 ITAR registration fee or a $250 licensing fee.

Instead, the products will transfer to the EAR — and undergo far less regulatory scrutiny, critics fear.

“Under the guise of reducing burdens to completing a sale, this Administration wants to make it easier for a dictator to use American firearms to oppress their people or for terrorists to build armories.”,” said Robin Lloyd, director of government affairs for the Giffords Law Center. “It’s clear the Administration will do anything to appease the gun lobby – even if it means putting profits over the safety of people around the world.”

The new rules will be published in the Federal Register later this month and be subject to a 45-day public comment period.

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