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Trump’s ‘business-friendly’ gun plan will fuel global conflicts

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The Trump administration is on the precipice of making a major – and little-noticed – mistake in its foreign policy. As Reuters recently reported, the White House is preparing to shift oversight of the sale of American-manufactured small arms from the diligent State Department review process to the business-friendly Commerce Department. By loosening the inter-agency guidelines in an attempt to boost America’s share in the global marketplace, the Trump administration runs the risk of fueling the civil wars currently bringing misery to millions worldwide.

The aim of this policy is to enable U.S. weapons manufactures to sell their products overseas quickly by trimming the bureaucratic red tape now governing the export of non-military grade weapons and ammunition. According to the Reuters report, the new plan would mean that commercial gun exports would no longer be given the same scrutiny as missile and fighter jet sales, which often require congressional approval. The shift would also move weapons like assault rifles and handguns from the State Department’s tightly-restricted Munitions list to the Commerce Control Lists, which allows for more streamlined licensing for international sales. While the administration has explained these new procedures as a logical extension of a U.S. president who is solidly pro-business, the transfer of authority from Foggy Bottom will have unintended and damaging foreign policy repercussions.

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