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US halts civilian firearms and ammunition exports for 90 days

The Commerce Department said it will conduct a review to ensure firearms are not being "diverted to entities or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights, or fuel criminal activities."

Published: October 29, 2023 11:32am

Updated: October 29, 2023 11:34am

The United States for the next 90 days will no longer issue new export licenses for ammunition and firearms to non-governmental users globally, except for those in select locations, the Commerce Department said. 

The agency "will further assess current firearm export control review policies to determine whether any changes are warranted to advance U.S. national security and foreign policy interests" during the 90-day pause, the department said Friday.

"The review will be conducted with urgency and will enable the Department to more effectively assess and mitigate risk of firearms being diverted to entities or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights, or fuel criminal activities."

The agency will still review non-governmental export permits to certain countries, including Ukraine and Israel, both of which are at war after being invaded. 

Previously issued export licenses are still valid, but applications that are still being processed are paused, the department also said. 

The order affects most firearms and ammunition that could be bought in a U.S. gun store, Joanna Reeves, an attorney who specializes in arms export controls, said, according to Reuters

She said she has not seen the Commerce Department take such a wide-ranging measure like this before. "For sure they have individual country policies – but nothing like this," she said.

U.S. firearms manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson Brands, may be impacted by the ban.

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