U.S. Gunmakers’ Efforts to Get Weapons to Ukraine Often Stifled by Red Tape

Multiple gunmakers in the United States have made efforts to provide Ukrainians with weapons as the Russian invasion continues, but some have hit pitfalls along the way.

Some companies that had already been shipping internationally, such as Florida-based family-owned company KelTec, already knew how the process worked and secured an arms export license within days, the Associated Press reported. But for others less experienced with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), it can take months.

The red tape has the potential to cause some frustration among Americans who are looking to aid Ukraine as the war nears the end of its first month, with peace talks between Ukraine and Russia not yet yielding any concrete results. According to EasyExport, gun store owners looking to sell their firearms internationally have to go through several steps in order to do so, such as screening the buyer, making sure the buyer has an import permit, obtaining an export license if necessary and more.

Adrian Kellgren, owner of KelTec, told the AP the company had a longtime customer in Ukraine and was holding a $200,000 shipment to them when KelTec stopped hearing from the customer. Instead of letting the 400-gun shipment sit in limbo, the company decided to send it to Ukrainian citizens fighting back against the Russian attacks.

The company has dealt with international export regulations for years. And because of a Ukrainian neighbor connecting the family to a Ukrainian diplomat, the company had less trouble sending the weapons over, the AP report added.

For other organizations looking to provide Ukraine with aid, the process might not be as simple. However, Reuters reported earlier this month that the U.S. Commerce Department said it is working “rapidly” to process requests to send the weapons over.

Organizations looking to provide Ukraine with aid have also experienced other issues, such as theft. In New York, about 400 bulletproof vests intended to be sent to Ukraine were stolen, WNBC-TV reported. The vests had been donated by local law enforcement, and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America were storing them until they could be shipped.

According to the local news station, security footage from the deli next door to the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America showed people in masks walking into the building and taking the boxes holding the vests in three different vans. The investigation into who committed the crime is ongoing.

Meanwhile, KelTec is looking to provide even more weapons, as the company’s license allows for up to 10,000 exported firearms, the AP reported.

“The American people want to do something,” Kellgren told the AP. “We enjoy our freedoms, we cherish those things. And when we see a group of people out there getting hammered like this, it’s heartbreaking.”

Follow Newsweek‘s live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

This is a developing story and will be updated when more information becomes available.

Update 03/18/22 3:10 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information and background.

Gun Companies Send Weapons to Ukraine
Multiple gunmakers in the United States have made efforts to provide Ukrainians with weapons as the Russian invasion continues, but some have hit pitfalls along the way. Above, KelTec 9mm SUB2000 rifles, similar to ones being shipped to Ukraine, are viewed in a testing room at a manufacturing facility on Thursday, March 17, in Cocoa, Florida.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Photo

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