The Latest Attack on the Firearms Industry

posted on May 11, 2024
gun show
Photo: NSSF

A recently published rule from the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is the latest in a long line of attacks from the Biden administration on the firearms industry.

The BIS’ new rule seeks to make permanent what was originally announced as a 90-day “pause” on licenses for firearms exports to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). It should be noted that the “pause” was initially put in place in October of 2023 and lasted far beyond its claimed timeline, as it went right up to the publication of the Interim Final Rule on April 30.

“The changes being announced are intended to reduce the risk of legally exported firearms and related items being diverted or misused to fuel regional instability, drug trafficking, human rights violations, political violence, and other activities that undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests,” read a press release from the BIS.

However, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) found that between 2016 and 2020, only 1% of the millions of legally exported firearms were recovered abroad at crime scenes and traced.

The real burden of this disingenuous rule change falls on manufacturers, who could lose millions and millions of dollars in lost business. This rule will rescind roughly 2,000 active export licenses for certain firearms. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, estimates that the impact will easily exceed a quarter of a billion dollars.

“This rule is another Operation Choke Point—a politically motivated effort that significantly harms Tennessee manufacturers—and will consequently destroy U.S. jobs and small businesses that support the firearm and ammunition industry,” said Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) in a press release. “The Biden Administration has made clear that its goal is to damage the firearm industry that supplies the products that allow Americans to exercise their constitutional freedom. Crushing American exports is just a means to skirt the legislative process and do damage to yet another Biden-disfavored industry.”

“With its issuance of this rule, the Department of Commerce is continuing the Biden administration’s assault on the Second Amendment,” added Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). “By targeting the manufacturing base of a constitutionally protected industry with regulatory burdens that will decimate small manufacturers and their employees, the Biden administration is using national security as a veil to cover up its anti-gun agenda, while failing to address the real national security crisis taking place at our southern border.”

Under the new rule, firearm export licenses will have a lifespan of one year instead of four, and will be approved on a case-by-case basis. BIS stated that licenses will be denied to countries arbitrarily identified as “at risk.” All previous licenses to “high-risk” countries will be revoked 60 days after the rule takes effect, and those companies will have to reapply for new licenses.

Of course, this rule making will likely be met with applause from anti-Second Amendment politicians who blame American freedom and manufacturing for any ills in the world.

“The Commerce Department’s decision to pause new firearm export approvals and promotion is welcome news. We urge the Commerce Department to implement our recommendations in its review of its export policies, and if necessary, to extend the temporary pause as needed to reconsider its export policies as rigorously as possible,” wrote a group of congressmen, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), after the initial pause was set to expire in January of this year.

The rule will go into effect on May 30, and Americans have 60 days (until July 1) to comment on the rule. Comments can be submitted here.


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