Commerce Departments Pauses Firearms Exports for 90 Days

On Friday, 27 October, 2023, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security which controls the export of commercial firearms from the United States issued a notice stating that it was halting the approval of export licenses for “certain firearms, related components, and ammunition under its jurisdiction” for “approximately 90 days.”

The notice goes on to state:

During this “pause” period, the Department 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. 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.

Specifically, the halt relates to ECCN 0A501, ECCN 0A502, ECCN 0A504, and ECCN 0A505, that are destined for non-governmental end users worldwide apart from those located in Ukraine, Israel, or a country in Country Group A:1 (Wassenaar Arrangement Participating States), Supp. No. 1 to part 740 of the EAR.

The notice does state that this does not affect previously issued/received export licenses and that exporters may continue to submit license applications to BIS regardless of whether the items on the application are subject to the pause. Applications subject to the pause, however, will be placed on “Hold Without Action” (HWA) and will not be processed until the end of the pause. Furthermore, applications currently in process are affected by the pause. BIS will contact exporters when the pause is lifted.

It’s interesting to note that this action comes on the heels of calls from Congress for the Biden Administration to explain how Hamas terrorists used US weapons during the attacks on Israel earlier this month. Still no acknowledgement of whether any of those arms were from the $7 billion in weapons and equipment abandoned in Afghanistan. We know they have shown up in the Kashmir conflict.

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