As reported by Reuters, the United States Department of Commerce has suspended issuing export permits for most civilian firearms and ammunition for all entities non-governmental organizations for 90 days, citing national security and foreign policy interests.
The Department of Commerce did not provide further details of the suspension, which also covers shotguns and optical sights, but said the urgent review would assess "risk of firearms being diverted to entities or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights, or fuel criminal activities."" The Department of Commerce declined to comment beyond publication on its website.
The halt applies to most guns and ammunition available at U.S. gun stores, said Johanna Reeves, a lawyer specializing in export control and firearms at the law firm Reeves & Fortune in Washington. Reeves said she had never seen the Department of Commerce take such radical action. "For sure they have individual country policies – but nothing like this," she said.
Export licenses for Ukraine and Israel, as well as certain other close allies, will be exempt from the temporary export suspension. The export ban could impact U.S. companies selling firearms, including Sturm Ruger & What. (RGR.N), Smith & Wesson Brands (SWBI.O) and Vista Outdoor (VSTO.N). Foreign customers include distributors and stores selling firearms.
Exporters can continue to submit license applications during the freeze, but these will be "held without action" until the halt is lifted. The suspension does not affect previously issued export licenses, the Department of Commerce said.
For shipments to government buyers, exporters must name specific end users, while applications containing anonymous government, military and police users will be "returned without action."