Rep. Castro Sends Letter to Commerce About Assault Weapons Exports

Rep. Castro Sends Letter to Commerce About Assault Weapons Exports

Joshua Smith
Joshua Smith
September 10, 2023

Texas Representative Joaquin Castro (D) joined a group of lawmakers sending a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, requesting answers on the Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) questionable oversight of assault weapons exports and its failure to release data on its approvals of the weapons.

Furthermore, the lawmakers are requesting that Commerce publicly release the data on the weapons exports.

“In March 2020, the Trump administration transferred oversight of [assault weapons exports] from the State Department to Commerce, after which the value of assault weapon export license approvals immediately shot up by roughly 30 percent, profiting gun manufacturers while putting civilians at risk around the world. This problem may be getting worse – yet your Department has not published updated annual data — which will soon be a full year late — or responded to a congressional inquiry,” wrote the lawmakers.

In the letter, the Texas representatives state that the Department of Commerce has enabled the transportation of harmful weapons.

“Meanwhile, new reporting indicates that the Department continues to serve as a ‘booster and concierge’ to the firearm industry – promoting exports of deadly weapons that find their way into the hands of terrorists and human rights abusers to be used in brutal killings across the globe. Assault weapons are clearly being exported with Commerce’s approval and then used to murder civilians abroad, and Commerce owes the public a full accounting of its role.”

The Texas lawmakers write that Commerce’s failure to act on several measures, such as responding to letters and publishing data, has caused problems for the country and possibly made the issue worse.

“However, you have not responded to a September 2022 congressional letter that sought information about the increased license approvals. You have also delayed for nearly a full year Commerce’s annual publication of updated export and license approval data. Commerce posted its last export and license approval data, covering the period from March 2020 to June 2021, two to four months after the end of the relevant period (between August 4 and October 12, 2021).  Yet the Department has still not posted its data for the period from June 2021 to June 2022, over a year after the close of the data reporting period,” continued the lawmakers.

In other news, Texas Representative Veronica Escobar (D) led a group of Texas representatives in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, condemning the shooting of a Mexican national.

In a controversial move, a Mexican national was recently shot by a Texas National Guard service member.

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Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith is a writer and recent graduate, majoring in English.

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