NEWARK – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after the Trump Administration formally announced on Friday that it was moving forward with its plans to drastically weaken U.S. firearms export regulations despite the Senator’s official hold.
The move, which was being blocked by Menendez over concerns that the Trump Administration wanted to dilute congressional oversight of foreign sales of lethal weapons, loosens export controls on semi-automatic firearms and sniper rifles for export abroad by stripping oversight authority from the State Department’s Munitions List (USML). Future proposed sales will now be approved through a much less-strict system within the Commerce Department.
“Once again, we find ourselves shocked and saddened, and yet somehow unsurprised that the Administration is choosing a path that puts the gun industry’s profits ahead of the safety of families. This reckless decision not only makes it easier to export deadly firearms to human rights abusers; it removes these exports from Congressional oversight and disapproval.
“Adding insult to injury, not only does today’s announcement ignore my objections as Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it is conveniently timed for the Administration’s representatives to tout the new rules at the annual gunmakers’ Las Vegas convention next week.
“As I tried to repeatedly explain to the Trump Administration, semi-automatic firearms and ammunition – especially those derived from military models and widely in-use by military and security services – are uniquely dangerous. They are easily modified, diverted, and proliferated, and are the primary means of injury, death, and destruction in civil and military conflicts throughout the world. As such, they should be subject to more rigorous export controls and oversight, not less.”