The Department of Commerce has placed a 90-day pause on new export licenses for most civilian firearms and ammunition, citing U.S. national security and foreign policy issues.
The pause, which was put into place Friday, will allow the department to “further assess firearm export control review policies” to decide if any changes are needed to advance America’s security and foreign policy interests, it said last week.
The review will be done with “urgency” and will help the department evaluate and lessen the risk of firearms being “diverted to entities or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights or fuel criminal activities,” according to the department.
The pause applies to the Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) new export licenses for certain firearms — including semi-automatic and nonautomatic firearms — along with receivers, or firearm framers, and ammunition.
The Commerce Department said export licenses for aid to Ukraine and Israel in their respective conflicts are exempted from the pause. License applications for exports to those countries will continue to be reviewed, as will those to states participating in the Wassenaar Arrangement, a voluntary export-control pact including roughly 40 countries, and to governmental entities worldwide.
The BIS and its interagency partners “will continue to rigorously review all license applications to determine whether approving such applications is consistent with U.S. national security and foreign policy interests,” the Commerce Department said.
The applications for exports to Israel, Ukraine and countries participating in the Wassenaar Arrangement will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, along with those for named government, military and police users.
The pause will not impact any previously issued or received export licenses. However, previously submitted licenses or those in process will be subject to the pause and processing will come to a halt.