South Florida Rep. Ted Deutch is calling out the Donald Trump administration, after a move expected to ease the export of guns.
Currently, the State Department is in charge of approving the sale of weapons overseas. President Trump has now started a process that would shift approval for small arms exports over to the Commerce Department, rather than State.
That move and its effects were outlined by The Washington Times. As it stands now, all weapons exports, from tanks to handguns, go through the same approval process at the State Department. On top of that, manufacturers are forced to register with State and pay an annual fee which starts at $2,250 per year.
Now, small arms manufacturers will no longer be forced to pay that fee, nor go through as rigorous an approval process. The export of semiautomatic rifles and weapons up to .50 caliber in size will now be covered by Commerce.
The move was made to help boost trade, but Deutch says it will make other countries less safe. He targeted the National Rifle Association and its new president in a statement condemning the move.
“Remember when Oliver North – now the head of the NRA – was caught illegally selling weapons to Iran?” reads Deutch’s statement. “After only a few weeks of being the gun companies’ point man in America, the Trump Administration is moving to make it easier for American gun manufacturers to sell weapons without Congressional oversight – weapons that could wind up in the hands of human rights abusers and dictators.”
Deutch rose to national prominence as a gun control proponent after February’s mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. Deutch represents the 22nd Congressional District which covers Parkland, the site of the shooting.
Now, he says other countries are more at risk due to Trump’s move. He says the action “will make it easier for gun companies to export gun violence around the world. Congress must act to block this proposed rule.”
The move by the Trump administration will not be implemented until a 45-day comment period is completed. After that, Congress would be able to reverse the rule change by passing legislation. However, that’s a tough sell in a GOP-led Congress.
Perhaps surprisingly, this same shift was almost undertaken by the Barack Obama administration, who thought the oversight at State was excessive for small arms shipments. However, Obama backed off on approving the change after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.