Trump Administration to Ease ITAR Export Restrictions, Industry Stocks Spike

    The current US administration is looking to release many of the restrictions on weapons exports, according to a recent article at Reuters. Currently, International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) limit the ability for US arms companies to sell weapons overseas. However, the Trump administration is reportedly planning to change the jurisdiction for most arms exports from the State Department to the Commerce Department, which would likely make such exports substantially easier. The State Department’s focus is primarily on security and stability, which means they generally err on the side of less exports rather than more, but the Commerce Department is primarily focused on facilitating international trade. This strongly suggests that arms exports as handled by the Commerce Department would be facilitated by the agency, rather than obstructed, as the trend has been under the State Department.

    In the wake if this news, stocks of major gun companies spiked slightly, with Ruger, Vista Outdoors, and Smith & Wesson (American Outdoor Brands Corporation), all regaining some of the lead they had lost since the end of the summer, with Ruger being the big winner, rising from about $46 dollars a share to the mid-$50s.

    Obviously, the primary side effect of this move would be increased revenue for an industry currently coming down off the highs of the Obama years – which should make manufacturers and exporters plenty happy. However, it will also impact markets outside the United States, and already Canadian gun blogs and forums are considering the ramifications of such a move. From the Canadian magazine Calibre:

    Obviously some regulatory changes will occur as the regulation of arms export transfers from the State Department to the Department of Commerce, and it will be those smaller changes that will have the greatest impact to Canadians. Either of the US or Canadian governments are capable of structuring these changes to allow everything from “I placed an order with Brownells USA and it arrived at my door a week later,” to maintaining the existing firearms importation regime as it stands. Furthermore, the impact of such changes as opening up the Canadian market to US exporters like Brownells could be so far-reaching that it’s impossible to predict how such a scenario would play out. So we’re as yet incapable of saying with any certainty what effect these changes will truly have on the Canadian marketplace, and industry. However, you best believe that with SHOT Show 2018 around the corner, we’re pretty confident in saying that we know what everyone will be talking about in the run up to January…

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]