Trump administration ready to ease gun export policies

The Trump administration is ready to overhaul its gun export policy, relaxing regulations on domestic manufacturers seeking to ship their commercial products overseas.

Part of the changes involve transferring oversight of commercial firearms exports to the U.S. Commerce Department – they are currently overseen by the State Department. Under the current structure, manufacturers are required to pay an annual registration fee of more than $2,200, which will be eliminated when the Commerce Department assumes control. Critics argue the export oversight system is designed for military-grade weapons and not for commercially available products.

The changes would apply to small, nonmilitary firearms, semiautomatic rifles and ammunition, and are intended to increase business for American companies. Other weapons will remain under the State Department’s purview.

During a speech at the Forum on the Arms Trade at Washington, D.C. think tank the Stimson Center on Tuesday, acting secretary for the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls at the U.S. State Department, Mike Miller, detailed some of the provisions and said the administration was preparing to publish the full document on Thursday.

Easing rules on foreign exports could increase gun sales among U.S. manufacturers by as much as 20%, according to the National Sports Shooting Foundation, as reported by Reuters.

American Outdoor Brands, formerly known as Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation, is just one of the U.S. manufacturers that has reported a slump in sales during President Trump’s tenure. Remington Outdoor Company filed for bankruptcy two months ago, but emerged last week with a balance sheet restructuring plan. Sturm Ruger also said earlier this year that its sales declined more than 20% last year.