Officials from the State Department and the Commerce Department told Congress privately that they intend to finalize rules in the coming weeks that would shift most consumer gun exports from the State Department to the Commerce Department’s jurisdiction. In a nutshell, semiautomatic and single-shot firearms, as well as a range of parts and components would make the transition while the State Department would continue to control the sale of automatic weapons as well as items that serve “a critical military advantage or perform an inherently military function.”
Politically there has been push back on the changes by liberal lawmakers and democrats who believe the proposed shift could do more harm than good for national security. The Trump administration is reminding lawmakers that this roll out is nearly identical to the proposed changes released by President Obama that became delayed and never reopened after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people in 2012. Although none of these rule changes are related to domestic gun control, the idea of easing any regulations on guns after shootings doesn’t sit well with the most Americans.
The changes are meant to cut costs for businesses and prioritize the control of military grade or other arms that pose national security concerns rather than commercial items. The shift will also cause Congress to lose the ability to oversee any commercial arms sales worth $1 million or more which is currently required under the Arms Export Control Act. The act requires the State Department to submit information on sales this large for congressional review, the Commerce Department does not have such a requirement.