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From March through July, the first five months of relaxed federal rules for firearms exports, U.S. weapons companies drastically increased their global sale of military rifles and handguns compared to the same period last year.
According to Internation Trade Commission (UTC) data, U.S. weapons manufacturers have exported 83,000 military rifles—among the categories of firearms exports transferred to the Commerce Department from the State Department—during the pandemic, two and a half times more than last year.
New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer Inc. led exporters by shipping 27,400 military rifles to India worth $28 million, and together with Nevada-based FIME Group, sent 12,167 to Thailand, 10,445 to Tunisia, 10,000 to Oman, 5,002 to Kuwait, 4,812 to Lebanon, and thousands more to Mexico, Colombia, Afghanistan, and other countries.
The regulatory changes, eliminating the requirement of noticing Congress of licenses granted for large gun exports, were initially believed to support smaller companies in the arms industry by reducing export and license fees. Yet, large companies like Sig Sauer and the Georgia manufacturing facility of Glock appear to be profiting most during the pandemic.
Combined, U.S. companies have exported 220,000 handguns worth $90 million over the past five months (three times more than last year), with Sig Sauer selling $27 million worth of semi-automatic pistols to Thailand and $18 million (51,097 firearms) to Mexico. In both countries, mass shootings and gun homicides have increased to unprecedented rates and led to calls for stricter gun laws.
My latest, drawing on data that shows how gun companies are unprecedented numbers of of handguns and military rifles overseas: US Gun Exports Have Spiked During the Pandemic https://t.co/cst1HcfQmp
While many large gun manufacturers like Kimber and CZ-USA temporarily halted operations to comply with local health measures, both received multi-million dollar PPP loans to sustain production, and others, like Sig Sauer in New Hampshire, continued production without ever having to stop.
Other significant markets over this period include Canada, which purchased two-thirds of U.S. centerfire rifle exports, Australia (which purchased 72 million bullets from March through July), and the United Arab Emirates, which received a shipment of 500 artillery weapons from an Arizona company, according to Census Bureau records.