The United States Commerce Department has never taken such sweeping actions on firearms exportations until now. Citing national security and foreign policy interests, the Department announced Friday that the U.S. will stop issuing export licenses for most civilians firearms and ammunition for 90 days or all non-governmental users.
Reuters reports that the Commerce Department declined to comment beyond the announcement posted on its website. No additional details were provided on the halt, which also includes shotguns and optical sights, but said an urgent review will assess the “risk of firearms being diverted to entities or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights, or fuel criminal activities.”
Export licenses for Ukraine and Israel, as well as some other close allies, will be exempted from the temporary halt in exports. Overseas customers include distributors and stores that sell firearms. Exporters can continue to submit license requests during the pause, but they will be “held without action” until the pause is lifted, adds Reuters.
Commerce said the pause does not affect previously issued export licenses. For shipments to government clients, exporters must name specific end users, while applications with unnamed government, military, and police users will be “returned without action.”
Reuters quotes Johanna Reeves, a lawyer who specializes in export controls and firearms with the law firm Reeves & Dola in Washington. The halt covers most of the guns and ammunition that could be purchased in a U.S. gun store, said Reeves. She also said she had not seen the Commerce Department take such a sweeping action like this before. “For sure they have individual country policies – but nothing like this,” she said.
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In a turn of events, the House of Representatives made history on Friday with a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), marking the first such expulsion in over two decades. A moment fraught with gravity unfolded as Speaker Mike Johnson wielded his gavel to formalize Santos’ removal, setting a precedent in congressional annals.
Santos, indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, and other charges, has not faced conviction but stands accused of misusing campaign funds for opulent purchases. The bipartisan vote, tallying 311 to 114, signaled robust support for expulsion, with a marginally higher number of Republicans opting to retain Santos.
Questions loomed as Speaker Johnson left the chamber, his silence leaving the fate of the ongoing government spending battle uncertain. According to reports from Fox News, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer emphasized the non-partisan nature of the decision, asserting that members concluded Santos had tarnished the House’s reputation and was unfit for representation.
Within the GOP, conflicting opinions emerged, with Rep. Darrell Issa arguing against expulsion, citing the presumption of innocence. The tight-lipped stance of the House Ethics Committee played a pivotal role in the deliberations.
Conversely, members of the New York Republican delegation, led by Rep. Marc Molinaro, asserted Santos’ commission of crimes, justifying expulsion based on a comprehensive investigation.
Santos himself predicted the outcome in an exclusive morning interview on “FOX & Friends.” This vote not only underlines the House’s rare use of expulsion powers but also sets a critical precedent in handling members facing severe legal challenges.
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