House Democrats launch investigation into Trump administration's repeal of silencer export ban

House Democrats launch investigation into Trump administration's repeal of silencer export ban
© Greg Nash

House Democrats are launching an investigation into the Trump administration’s decision to repeal a ban on the sale of gun silencers to private businesses and entities in foreign countries.

Lawmakers on a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee are requesting documents related to the policy decision, raising concerns that an official in the White House was motivated by personal and political gain.

“The Subcommittee on National Security is deeply concerned by the Trump Administration’s July 10, 2020, decision to overturn a longstanding prohibition on the export of firearm sound suppressors to private entities located in foreign countries,” wrote Rep. Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Official: Pentagon has started 'prudent planning' for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May Overnight Defense: Dems divided on length of stopgap spending measure | Afghan envoy agrees to testify before House panel | Trump leans into foreign policy in campaign's final stretch MORE (D-Mass.), the subcommittee’s chairman, in a letter to the White House.

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“We are further disturbed by recent reports that the decision was made at the urging of a White House official with personal and financial ties to the American Suppressor Association (ASA), whose sponsors stand to make potentially millions of dollars as a direct result of the new policy,” he added.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that the Trump administration’s push to repeal a 2002 ban on the export of noise suppressors for firearms was spearheaded by the president’s deputy assistant and White House lawyer Michael Williams, who previously helped run the ASA, a trade group representing silencer manufacturers. 

“Michael Williams’ involvement in U.S. gun policy, and specifically his reported role in overturning the State Department’s 2002 restrictions on the foreign export of firearm suppressors, raises significant concerns about whether the safety of our men and women in uniform is being exchanged for personal or commercial profit,” Lynch wrote.

The subcommittee has requested the White House’s Office of Management and Budget provide documents related to Williams's communications and U.S. government interagency meetings related to the “foreign export of firearm silences, mufflers, and sound suppressors by August 11, 2020.”