Obama Set to Loosen Regs for US Firearms Exports

The business of America is business, and the firearms business is good. Especially in terms of foreign exports. Dd you know that Mexico was the second largest customer for U.S. arms last year, right after Afghanistan? Which doesn’t really count ’cause the Afghanis use our tax money to buy our gear. Or does it? If you’re a U.S. manufacturer of military arms who cares who’s paying for it as long as there’s no blowback? And political insurance is for sale (e.g. Remington’s closerthanthis relationship with gun control advocate Senator Chuck Schumer). That’s the CYA part of the “use the juice” business plan. The flip side? Sales! . . .

Mr. Obama has said he wants to double U.S. exports of all types by the end of 2014, a policy push that also includes bilateral free-trade agreements and a plan to reorganize government agencies that promote trade.

The proposed changes to weapons now subject to strict export regulation would cover a range of goods from firearms to drones, satellites and tanks, as well as civilian equipment with military uses . . .

Industry officials said the relaxation of export controls could help domestic arms makers and other firms boost sales by tens of billions of dollars.

This would be the same Obama administration that’s been creating more regulations (and regulators) to choke protect the banking and oil industries. The same President who’s minions have been kissing the gun grabbers’ collective ass at the UN, designing a Small Arms Treaty to control the “seepage” of firearms sold to “unauthorized” second parties.

Seems a rather sharp [pre-election] policy change don’tcha think? Well one thing’s for sure: the Department of Homeland Security and its subalterns aren’t happy with this sea change. Along with (guided by?) their good friends at the CIA and NSA, gun running to dodgy customers is their business . . .

The strongest objections were raised by the Homeland Security Department [sic]. In a recent internal memorandum to the White House and government agencies, the department said the proposed changes risked hindering the ability of its immigration and customs agents “to prevent or deter the illegal export/transfer of lethal items such as advanced firearms to criminal groups, terrorist organizations, or enemy combatants.”

The memo added: “This increased likelihood of the illegal export of lethal advanced firearms may put U.S. military, law enforcement or civilian personnel at increased risk.” . . .

Some law-enforcement and intelligence officials say the proposals could invite a sequel to “Fast and Furious,” a gun-trafficking enforcement program in which federal agents allowed suspected smugglers to buy about 2,000 firearms, hoping they would lead agents to smuggling bosses. Many of the weapons ended up at crime scenes along the U.S.-Mexico border, triggering a congressional probe.

A separate March 2012 Justice Department memo, also reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, cautioned against making any changes that could undermine the authorities of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to block weapons sales to countries subject to U.S. embargoes.

Color me confused. The federal bureau that enabled the illegal export of some 2000 firearms from American gun stores to narcoterrorists operating just south (and occasionally north) of the border, who used at least four of those guns to murder two U.S. federal agents, is worried that relaxing the laws for U.S. firearms export would lead the Bureau to commit another extra legal “Guns for Goons” program and create more risk for federal law enforcement officers?

That can’t be what they mean, can it? The part of diminishing their authority? That I believe. And applaud. Anyway, what’s in play here and who benefits?

Behind the current dispute are proposals from the State and Commerce departments that would ease the way for sales of semi-automatic firearms of up to .50 caliber to 36 countries deemed “trusted parties,” said officials briefed on the matter. These include North Atlantic Treaty Organization members such as the U.K. and Turkey, as well as non-NATO allies in Latin America and Asia . . .

Under the proposed rules, close-assault weapons, sniper rifles, combat shotguns and ammunition would be moved from the “strict controls” of the Munitions List to a “lesser controlled” Commerce list, according to a Homeland Security memo.

On the Commerce list, certain firearms could be exported, and re-exported, among 36 eligible countries, in some cases without advance U.S. approval, according to documents and congressional officials briefed on the proposals. Critics say the weapons would have less stringent disclosure and tracking rules, along with broad exceptions from license requirements.

As the old expression goes, money talk, bullshit walks. Fun fact 1: The Freedom Group makes semis. Fun fact 2: this pro-firearms export policy shift comes about just after the Group’s Remington brand won a contract to supply the U.S. Army with 24,000 M4A1 carbines. Even at the New York Times (November 2011), one plus one equals two.

So, to keep growing, the Freedom Group has expanded its sales staff in the United States and increased its business internationally. It has sold weapons to the governments of Afghanistan, Thailand, Mexico and Malaysia, among others, and obtained new business from the United States Army, including a contract worth up to $28.2 million, to upgrade the M24 sniper weapon system.

Cerberus brings some connections to the table. The longtime chairman of its global investments group is Dan Quayle, the former vice president. The Freedom Group, meantime, has added two retired generals to its board. One is George A. Joulwan, who retired from the Army after serving as Supreme Allied Commander of Europe. The other is Michael W. Hagee, formerly commandant of the Marine Corps.

Just ask anyone who makes a living inside the beltway. Some investments are more important than others. Know what I mean? Is this “stack ‘em and high and sell ‘em abroad” a good thing for the average American gun owner? I’m thinking yes; it helps our economy and keeps product innovation flowing. You?