May 4, 2012
President Barack Obama has proposed easing export controls on firearms in an effort to help American manufacturers boost their sales. But officials within the administration have objected to the controversial plan, which some say could result in another “Fast and Furious” mess, or worse.
Obama wants to relax restrictions on the sale of American-made guns to make them more competitive on international markets. According to figures provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. manufacturers exported 242,000 firearms in 2010. The proposed the rule would allow sales of semi-automatic firearms of up to .50 caliber to 36 countries considered to be “trusted parties.”
Officials in the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice strongly disagree with the idea of making U.S. weapons more available overseas. These opponents say the plan could lead to assault rifles and other guns falling into the wrong hands, including drug cartels and terrorists.
The controversy comes in the wake of the “Fast and Furious” scandal, in which federal agents were blasted for allowing drug smugglers to buy about 2,000 firearms from U.S. sellers, all in the name of supposedly tracking down cartel members.
The push for expanded exports also comes as U.S. imports of firearms grew to 3.2 million last year.