Tell Trump administration: don't make it easier to export assault rifles.

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For no reason other than to increase gun industry profits, the Trump administration has revived proposed rules that were shelved after the Sandy Hook school shooting to make it easier for American manufacturers to export firearms, especially assault weapons that are banned in six states, including Connecticut.

There’s a reason that firearm exports are tightly controlled: around the world more than 1,000 people are killed every day in acts of organized crime, political violence, terrorism and human rights violations.

According to a study by the Violence Policy Center, “military-style semiautomatic firearms easily available on the U.S. civilian gun market comprise a significant portion of the weapons illegally trafficked to Mexico and other Latin American and Caribbean countries.” As Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wrote last fall to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, firearm exports “should be subject to more—not less—rigorous export controls and oversight.”

Commenting on the impact of the proposed rules change, a senior administration official said, “You could really turn the spigot on if you do it the right way.” According to Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade organization tasked with increasing gun sales, the rule change could generate a 20 percent increase in exports, sending another 70,000 arms annually into the global marketplace.

Among other aspects that weaken oversight, the proposed rules changes would:

  • classify semi-automatic assault rifles as “non-military” despite the fact that many of these weapons of war are used in armed conflict.
  • eliminate Congressional oversight of gun export deals, prohibiting sales to despotic regimes such as it did with Turkey and the Philippines. 
  • Reduce end-use controls making it more difficult to take action against arms traffickers.

We should not be exporting America’s gun violence problem just so U.S. arms manufacturers can increase their profits.  Tell the Secretaries of Commerce and State to oppose the relaxing of rules that would make it easier for U.S. firearm manufacturers to export assault rifles and other guns, with less oversight and accountability.

Photo credit: CNN



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