The Trump administration just reversed an 18-year-old policy that restricted suppressor exports in a move that was praised by gun rights and shooting sports organizations alike. Predictably, these changes also upset gun-control groups.
The 2002 rule largely prohibited the sale and export of firearm suppressors to official users such as governments and militaries. This blocked the sale of suppressors to foreign commercial markets limiting the ability for suppressor manufacturers to earn and be competitive outside of the U.S.
Outside of the United States suppressors, silencers, and moderators are often unrestricted. They’re common safety devices used widely in hunting and the shooting sports. In some places not using suppressors is even considered rude.
While this may at first seem like a benefit to suppressor manufacturers, this will likely improve the American suppressor market as well. With a larger market to cater to, suppressor manufacturers can sell larger volumes while lowering the per-unit costs to make and speed up product improvement cycles.
There are still some restrictions on the foreign sale of suppressors, but they will be controlled under the same set of laws that guide the sale of guns, firearm components and accessories to foreign users. They will be considered to be U.S. Military Equipment for the purpose of foreign sale.
“The old policy completely excluded American suppressor manufacturers from competing in foreign markets where firearm suppressors are perfectly legal,” said the NRA in a statement. “It was also based on the misguided idea that suppressors completely silence firearms and that similar suppressor technology isn’t already available in the rest of the world.”
“This is a commonsense decision to allow U.S. manufacturers to compete in overseas markets where suppressors are not only legal, but are often required for recreational shooting and hunting,” said NSSF Vice President Lawrence G. Keane. “This is another win for the firearm and suppressor manufacturers by the Trump Administration.”
“Earlier this year, the Trump Administration finalized the U.S. Munitions List to Commerce Control List Transition, streamlining the export process for firearms,” said Keane. “That was an export reform years in the making and only held up for domestic political reasons. U.S. manufacturers, domestic production and U.S. workers will all benefit from this practical decision.”
The gun control industry is less pleased. “Let”s make it clear: with this decision, Donald Trump is endangering American troops in order to enrich the gun lobby in return for their help getting him elected,” said Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt.
“It is clearer than ever that Donald Trump cares more about protecting gun lobby profits than American lives, including the lives of the brave men and women who protect our country,” said Moms Demand Action’s Shannon Watts. “This November, we must elect a president who will take on the gun lobby, not take orders from it.”
What’s actually clear here is that these groups are opposed to the manufacture and sale of safety devices.