Chairman Lynch Opens Investigation Into Trump Administration Decision To Overturn Firearm Suppressor Export Ban

Jul 29, 2020 Issues: Committee on Oversight and Reform, National Security

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, sent a letter to Russell T. Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), requesting documents regarding the Trump Administration’s decision to overturn a longstanding prohibition on the export of firearm sound suppressors to private entities located in foreign countries.  Recent reports indicate 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.

“The overseas sale of U.S. defense articles, especially when those weapons could endanger the safety and security of our men and women in uniform, cannot and should not be influenced by personal financial or political interests,” Chairman Lynch wrote.

In April 2002, the Department of State restricted the export of firearm sound suppressors (i.e. gun silencers) to “only official end users such as government or military entities.”  This policy was implemented in order to “prevent American equipment from being used against American service members.”  

On July 10, 2020, the Trump Administration reversed the 2002 firearm suppressor export ban.  According to recent reports, then-Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to the White House Chief of Staff, Michael B. Williams, played a leading role in the State Department’s July 10, 2020, decision.  Before joining the Trump Administration, Williams worked as general counsel to the ASA alongside his brother, ASA President and Executive Director Knox Williams. 

“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, raise significant concerns about whether the safety of our men and women in uniform is being exchanged for personal or commercial profit.”

The Subcommittee requested that OMB provide documents regarding Michael B. Williams’ communications and U.S. government interagency meetings related to the foreign export of firearm silencers, mufflers, and sound suppressors by August 11, 2020.

Click here to read the letter.