NBC News, Josh Lederman
February 7, 2019
Manufacturers will no longer need State Department licenses to export dozens of weapons.
WASHINGTON — Semi-automatic weapons, flamethrowers and even some grenades will become easier for U.S. weapons manufacturers to export overseas under new rules being put in place by the Trump administration and obtained by NBC News.
Under the new rules, set to take effect in just under a month, gun-makers will no longer need licenses from the Department of State to sell dozens of types of weapons to other countries, including semi-automatic assault weapons such as the AR-15 that has been employed in many of America’s worst mass shootings. Instead, sellers will need only a no-fee license from the Department of Commerce, which has a less onerous licensing process and a smaller global footprint, making it harder to track how the weapons are ultimately used overseas.
But gun control advocates and many Democrats have voiced concerns about the proliferation of weapons in places where, unlike the United States, deadly weapons aren’t readily available at sporting goods stores or retailers like Walmart.
“In most countries, it is much more difficult to obtain any kind of firearm, much less a semi-automatic rifle or a flamethrower,” said John Lindsay-Poland, a gun trafficking expert at the human rights group Global Exchange. “In a context where such weapons aren’t available to ordinary people, they become weapons of war, whether we’re talking about insurgencies or terrorist organizations or organized crime. They use those weapons to control territory, carry out acts against civilians and to contest state power.”