Foreign Purchase Of US Ammo Maker Sets Up National Security Controversy

FILE - A sales associate arranges a display of guns at a firearms store in Burbank, Calif., June 23, 2022. A federal appeals court on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, opened the way to block a California law that bans gun ads aimed at children, saying it went too far in restricting lawful speech. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The potential sale of an American ammunition maker to a Czech arms company is drawing scrutiny from some lawmakers, highlighting concern about foreign ownership in a key industry in the midst of global arms shortages sparked by the continuing wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Minnesota-based Vista Outdoor announced in October that it had agreed to a $1.91 billion sale of its firearms business—which includes ammunition brands such as Remington—to the Czechoslovak Group, or CSG, based in Prague, a major supplier of munitions and military equipment to Ukraine.

Opponents of the deal, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. J.D. Vance (R., Ohio), an ally of former President Donald Trump, have alleged CSG links to China and Russia and urged the Treasury Department to block the sale through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius, which is reviewing the purchase.

They have said that the CSG deal would give the foreign company a grip on domestic small-arms ammunition supply. Vista is entertaining a rival bid from a Texas investment group.

A CSG purchase of Vista could have an impact on “reliable access to an affordable supply of primers and ammunition,” Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.) wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

CSG Chief Executive Michal Strnad said the deal would “deepen the strategic industrial relations” between the U.S. and the Czech Republic, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally.