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U.S. loosens export curbs on gun silencers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday rolled back a 2002 restriction on exporting silencers that suppress the loud noise from gunfire, in a victory for U.S. firearms manufacturers.

The industry has lobbied the government since 2017 to allow the sale of firearms sound suppressors to individuals in other countries, not just foreign militaries and police.

"Effective immediately, the Department of State has rescinded its April 18, 2002, firearms sound suppressor policy," according to the State Department website.

The new guidance followed an interagency review started in 2017 that "addresses the concerns from U.S. companies they were losing potential sales to foreign manufacturers of firearms sound suppressors," a department spokesman said in an email.

Silencers will now be able to be licensed and exported like any other weapon on the U.S. munitions list which includes satellites and nuclear weapons.

The State Department said all silencer export licenses would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Richard Chang)

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