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Everytown Statement on Trump Doing Gun Lobby’s Bidding, Endangering U.S. Troops by Lifting Ban on Overseas Silencer Sales


 A Former Gun Industry Lobbyist Working for the Trump Administration Helped Convince the White House to Lift a Bush-Era Ban on Sales of Silencers to Overseas Buyers “That Was Intended to Protect U.S. Troops from Ambushes”

Members of Everytown’s Veterans Advisory Council are Available for Interviews Today

NEW YORK –– Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots network, Moms Demand Action, responded to a New York Times report that the Trump administration lifted a ban on sales of silencers to overseas buyers at the behest Michael B. Williams––a former lobbyist for a gun industry association who previously wrote a failed gun lobby bill designed to gut silencer laws and now works for the administration. According to the report, Williams “pushed to overturn the prohibition, raising the issue with influential administration officials and creating pressure within the State Department.” 

The gun industry was “thrilled” with the administration’s decision, which “pave[s] the way for as much as $250 million a year in possible new overseas sales for companies that Mr. Williams had championed” as a gun industry lobbyist. The NRA, which was the single largest outside spender in President Trump’s 2016 election, added that this decision “long overdue.” But military experts “expressed alarm,” because the ban was “intended to prevent American equipment from making its way to hostile groups that might use it against American service members.” 

“Let’s make it clear: with this decision, Donald Trump is endangering American troops in order to enrich the gun lobby in return for their help getting him elected,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.“This type of corrupt decision-making is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Trump’s administration, and it’s exactly why we must defeat Donald Trump this November.” 

“It is clearer than ever that Donald Trump cares more about protecting gun lobby profits than American lives, including the lives of the brave men and women who protect our country,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “This November, we must elect a president who will take on the gun lobby, not take orders from it.”

“First Donald Trump refused to hold Russia accountable for reportedly putting bounties on American troops, and now Trump is endangering American service members’ lives by allowing silencers to be sold overseas,”  said Mike Washington, a retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant and member of the Everytown Veterans Advisory Council, whose son, Marine Corps Sergeant Michael T. Washington, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in June 2008, at age 20. “I’m appalled that our commander in chief would choose special interests over the safety of our troops who risk their lives for this country. This action is further proof that President Trump is in the pocket of the gun lobby, and further proof that we need new leadership in Washington.”

According to the Times, Michael B. Williams “spent nearly two years” helping run the American Suppressor Association––a trade group “focused on expanding sales of firearm silencers by American manufacturers”––before joining the administration. Throughout his time in the White House, Williams “maintained close ties to the suppressor association, which is funded by silencer manufacturers, distributors, retailers and customers.” He also spoke with his brother, who founded the American Suppressor Association, “almost every day.” Additionally, records show that Williams––who previously worked as a law clerk for the NRA––was invited by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to three meetings “about countering gun control measures after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.” The NSSF says Williams did not attend. 

Experts worry that removing the ban could endanger American troops. Lincoln P. Bloomfeld Jr., who was an assistant secretary of state when the ban was enacted by the George W. Bush White House in 2002, told the Times that the ban was implemented because “Terrorist groups were using garage door openers to blow up U.S. troops; you kind of think twice about what you are exporting.” He added that “such dangers still exist today,” and said, “Who are you selling these silencers to? I sure hope that none of these are aimed at U.S. or allied forces.”

Government watchdogs also raised concerns. Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said, “When Michael Williams exits through the revolving door to return to the gun industry, I’m sure he will be greeted with open arms.”