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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump Administration’s proposal to make it easier to export military-grade guns to other countries is likely to lead to increased violence and crime, warn analysts who study gun trafficking.

The proposal disclosed today would transfer responsibility for reviewing licenses to export firearms—including assault-style rifles, high-capacity pistols, and armor-piercing sniper rifles—from the U.S. Department of State to the Department of Commerce. The proposed changes would also remove Congressional oversight for large gun export deals. The Trump Administration plans to move ahead with this transfer despite serious concerns raised by U.S. law enforcement agencies.

As domestic firearms sales decline, the U.S. gun industry is desperate to identify new markets. The Trump Administration’s proposal will expand the opportunities for domestic gun manufacturers to market and sell their military-style firearms internationally.

The proposed transfer of agency responsibility will likely lead to more U.S. guns getting into the hands of criminal organizations, human rights abusers, terrorist groups, and others who wreak harm. By one estimate, 1,000 people are killed every day around the world by terrorists, insurgents, and criminal gangs using such weapons.

“U.S. firearms exported to Mexican police have been used in massacres and forced disappearances,” said John Lindsay-Poland of Global Exchange’s Project to Stop U.S. Arms to Mexico. “We need international background checks to prevent gun exports to military and private groups that use them to commit violence or collude with organized crime.” Mexico experienced more gun homicides in 2017 than any year on record. Seventy percent of firearms recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and traced were purchased in the U.S.

“Sound policy would not make it easier for U.S. gun manufacturers who made the assault weapons used in the mass shootings at Sandy Hook, Pulse nightclub, Las Vegas, and Parkland to sell them to international buyers,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director at the Violence Policy Center.

The proposed transfer will be published in the Federal Register and then open for public comment for 45 days.

Global Exchange is an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world. See more on Global Exchange’s Project to Stop US Arms to Mexico at afsc.org/stoparms.

The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.