On a cold December day in 2012, a 20-year-old walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and fired on first-graders and staff before he shot himself. The shooter used a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle. This semi-automatic non-military version of the U.S. military’s M-16 is alleged to have been illegally marketed by Remington Arms Co, the company that produces it, as a combat weapon for waging war and killing human beings.
Twenty children and six adults died from the 154 shots the gunman was able to discharge in just five minutes.
The AR-15 is the common denominator in many mass shootings, and medical professionals have noted that bullets from these guns pass through the body like a fast boat traveling through a tiny canal at maximum speed. Because the bullets of this rifle move at a much higher velocity, they are far more lethal than routine bullets fired from a handgun.
Gun Violence Beyond US Borders
A new rule announced on Thursday by the Donald Trump administration will make it far easier to export the AR-15 and weapons like it abroad, spreading rampant gun violence beyond U.S. borders.
The new rule will also move the AR-15 and similar weapons from a list that requires careful scrutiny, the U.S. Munitions List, to a list that contains far fewer safeguards, the Commerce Control List. The reason for doing this? To boost gun exports. The Trump administration is unapologetically saying that death is highly profitable and that profits for gun manufacturers are more important than people.
This is, of course, nothing new. The Trump administration, and Barack Obama’s before it, has been trying to transfer oversight of arms exports from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce for years, to ease regulations and boost exports.
We at Amnesty International USA, and the arms control community, strongly opposed it then and we still do. However, this new regulation will also reclassify and reduce oversight and open the floodgates for America’s toxic and dangerous gun policies to the rest of the world. The changes go in to effect this week.
In addition to assault rifles and ammunition, the new rule will also transfer regulatory authority of 3D-printed guns. This gun printing technology enables any individual anywhere in the world to create guns that cannot be traced anywhere, which can circumvent safeguards for gun ownership.
The dangers of making 3D-printed guns widely available are obvious, as we have seen in recent gun-related tragedies. Oversight of these Computer-Aided Design files for the automated production of 3D-printed weapons must be included on the Munitions List and remain checked under the supervision of the U.S. State Department.
ICYMI: Trump Admin expected to publish new final rules on ghost guns on Jan. 23. Loosening regs on blueprints for untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed firearms puts our kids and communities at risk.
We’re prepared to fight back against this dangerous proposal. #EndGunViolence
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) January 22, 2020
We cannot ignore or allow the government or gun manufacturers to minimize how drastic these rule changes could be. The “defense article” classification triggers several critically important provisions in the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act, many of which require arms exporters to register with the government, prevent diversion from the intended recipient, and conduct background and end-use checks.
This is the first time that lethal weapons are being considered for this re-classification, and it would include all types of weapons, even the deadliest.
Congress Must Act
With unfettered access to guns for anyone who intends harm, the flow of U.S. guns around the world will increase dramatically, and human rights violators who should not have any access to firearms will now be able to have their pick of the latest in American technology, including the AR-15.
As the families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School know all too well – as do all the families of the mass shootings following it, 366 in 2019 alone – the results of these weapons falling into the wrong hands can be devastating.
With the adoption of the new rule, people all around the world will be impacted by the lack of adequate oversight for dangerous weapons flowing across U.S. borders. The time for action is now. Congress must act and stop these changes.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.