The U.S. Department of Commerce announced a 90-day suspension of export licenses for most civilian firearms and ammunition to non-governmental users, citing national security and foreign policy concerns.
While details regarding the pause were not disclosed, the Commerce Department mentioned that an urgent review would evaluate the potential risk of these firearms being diverted to entities or activities that could contribute to regional instability, human rights violations, or criminal activities.
This suspension encompasses a broad range of firearms and ammunition typically available for purchase in U.S. gun stores, according to Johanna Reeves, a legal expert specializing in export controls and firearms at the Washington-based law firm Reeves & Dola.
She noted that actions of this magnitude by the Commerce Department are unprecedented, although they may have individual country-specific policies.
However, it’s important to note that export licenses for certain close allies, such as Ukraine and Israel, will be exempt from the temporary export halt.
The export ban may have repercussions for U.S. firearm companies like Sturm Ruger & Co., Smith & Wesson Brands, and Vista Outdoor, as well as overseas customers, including distributors and retailers selling firearms.
During the suspension period, exporters will still have the option to submit license requests, but these requests will be put on hold until the suspension is lifted. It’s crucial to highlight that previously issued export licenses remain unaffected by this pause.
Furthermore, for shipments to government clients, exporters must specify the end users, and applications without clearly named government, military, or police users will not be processed.