Americans, already facing an ammo shortage, will soon no longer be able to purchase Russian-made ammunition.
The Biden Administration announced on Friday it would stop approving new permits to import Russian-made ammo and guns. The ban will go into effect on September 7th, 2021. It is part of a new round of sanctions against the Russian government over its poisoning and imprisoning of dissident Aleksey Navalny.
“Our actions today – exercised by the U.S. Departments of State, the Treasury, Justice and Commerce – send a clear signal that there will be no impunity for the use of chemical weapons, including for the individuals and organizations involved,” Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, said in a statement. “Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and contravenes international norms. The United States calls upon Russia to comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
The move comes just a few months after domestic ammunition manufacturers warned the ongoing shortage facing Americans could stretch out for years. The scarcity of ammo has led to huge price increases, fewer opportunities for Americans to practice shooting, and even the closure of some shooting ranges. The Biden Administration’s new import ban will further restrict stock as it becomes impossible for American companies to import popular Russian-made brands such as TulAmmo.
Price said the new restrictions come on the one-year anniversary of Navalny’s poisoning and serve as a condemnation of attempts to silence his criticism of the Russian government. He said the administration would invoke the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act to implement the ban.
Industry officials scrambled to understand and respond to the ban after news of it broke on Friday. The Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition questioned the administration’s justification for the ban. The group said it believes the move is part of Biden’s broader push to tighten gun and ammunition sales regulations in America regardless of the pretext.
“The law in question was intended—and rightfully so—to hold the Russian government accountable,” the group told The Reload. “With this rule, however, the State Department appears to be using the attack on Mr. Navalny and this law primarily to further the current administration’s campaign to undermine the firearms industry and American consumers’ access to firearms and ammunition.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a second industry group, did not comment on the move but told its members on Friday it was looking into the details of the new sanctions. It said new ammo importation permits would be denied. However, those that have already been issued will remain intact until they expire, something that could take up to two years.
However, the group was still trying to understand whether the ban will also deny imports of popular collectible firearms such as the Mosin-Nagant. The group said it was in contact with Customs and Border Patrol to find out how they will handle the situation.
Price said the State Department and the Treasury Department would also place sanctions on “nine Russian individuals and four entities, including operatives involved in poisoning Mr. Navalny and entities that have developed Russia’s chemical weapons capabilities.”
Once the sanctions go into effect, they will stay in place for up to a year. The administration can then renew them if Russia has not met several benchmarks under the Biological Weapons law.