President Joe Biden is stepping up his effort to cripple the firearm industry, the one industry that provides the means for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
President Biden’s Commerce Department issued a new and unprecedented edict that bans the export of firearms, ammunition and certain accessories to most overseas markets. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security posted a notice of a 90-day “pause” for the exports on a Friday afternoon – on the Frequently Asked Questions Section that’s listed on the bottom the BIS website.
The “Friday news dump” was apparently an attempt to slip the kneecapping of the industry under the radar. However, this appears to be a coordinated event and more evidence of gun control groups steering domestic and foreign policy for the Biden administration.
President Biden’s revulsion that Americans would actually choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights has long been clear. He labeled firearm manufacturers “the enemy” at the outset of his campaign for The White House. That was a purposeful choice of words. He didn’t say the firearm industry “opposed” his policies, nor did he say it was an “adversary.” He chose to call the firearm industry “the enemy,” labeling it as an existential threat to the America he wanted to fashion during his administration.
Since he was inaugurated, Biden has taken every opportunity to wage a campaign against the firearm industry and gun owners in general. He nominated David Chipman, a gun control lobbyist, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The ATF, of course, is the federal agency that regulates the firearm industry. His nomination was akin to putting the fox in charge of the hen house. NSSF opposed and his nomination was withdrawn. Director Steve Dettelbach was later nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
There’s also the ATF’s “zero-tolerance” policy that has seen federal firearms licenses (FFLs) revoked and businesses closed for minor clerical errors, even in cases that were addressed and closed. Some of those cases were reopened to revoke licenses and shut down businesses and livelihoods. As part of that pressure campaign, there’s been a significant increase in the number of “voluntary” license surrenders by business owners who agreed to give up their licenses instead of fight the weight of the federal government over the onerous policy.
President Biden has used nearly every lever of government he can to erect roadblocks to law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights and hobble the firearm industry’s ability to meet the demands of gun owners. He issued Final Rules through the Department of Justice (DOJ) and ATF to attempt an end-around Congress and redefine “frames or receivers” and ban stabilizing pistol braces.
The frame or receiver rule outlawed the sale of unfinished firearm parts kits and his stabilizing pistol brace rule redefined brace-equipped pistols as short-barreled rifles, requiring that they be registered as controlled items under the National Firearms Act, requiring tax stamps and submission of fingerprints, photos and redundant background checks.
Both Final Rules are being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional. That’s because they are. The Final Rules create criminal law without the consent and will of Congress. It is important to remember that only Congress can write laws – especially those that involve criminal punishments. When an executive authority does that on its own, that’s tantamount to tyranny.
President Biden also took aim at gun owners and hunters by kowtowing to anti-hunting and antigun special interests to ban the use of traditional lead ammunition on National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs). His administration hasn’t done this just once – but twice (and just last week). These rules phase out the use of traditional lead ammunition and require more expensive and less available alternative ammunition. It was announced that it was to protect wildlife populations from the detrimental effects of the use of traditional ammunition.
President Biden promised his administration would “follow the science,” except it isn’t. There is no peer-reviewed, site-specific evidence to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) claims. They published the rules claiming to protect human health, California condors and American bald eagles. But the sites where they are banning the ammunition don’t hold condor populations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own research demonstrates there is no human risk from consuming game harvested using traditional ammunition. American bald eagles are thriving, in large part because of the contributions paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers through Pittman-Robertson excise taxes. That’s benefited wildlife conservation to the tune of over $25 billion since 1937, when adjusted for inflation.
The Latest Salvo
Now, the Biden administration has slipped in this “pause” on firearm exports. That’s significant for several reasons.
First, President Biden campaigned on reversing the U.S. Munitions List to Commerce Control List (USML-CCL) export reforms that were begun under the Obama-Biden administration and completed by the Trump administration. Those reforms reduced regulatory costs and streamlined exports while strengthening end-to-end user checks to ensure firearm exports weren’t being sent overseas to bad actors.
Opponents of these reforms include disgraced U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who coveted his Senate oversight role to bless or block any firearm exports under the old rules.
It’s now apparent why he so zealously wanted that oversight back. The longtime ally of President Biden was recently indicted on federal corruption and bribery charges that stem from him greasing the skids for small-arms shipments to companies in Egypt. FBI officials raided his home and found hundreds of thousands of dollars wadded up and stuffed in his jacket pockets, along with stacks of gold bars. The twice-indicted senator has also been charged with illegally acting as an agent for the Egyptian government.
The export “pause” is unprecedented and the timing is suspect. The Biden administration’s new Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which is staffed by gun control lobbyists and activists, just concluded a roundtable meeting with Democratic lieutenant governors to explore new ways they could collaborate on more gun control.
It also took place in the wake of successive Bloomberg News features that called into question exports to foreign countries, falsely alleging that U.S. manufacturers are somehow complicit in stoking crime.
One was an attack on SIG SAUER over crime in Thailand and a later article focused on Central and South America. Another attacked the Commerce Department’s role in assisting U.S. manufacturers at NSSF’s annual SHOT Show. That’s something the Commerce Department does for all industries.
Bloomberg News is owned, of course, by Michael Bloomberg. He’s the billionaire former New York City mayor who flamed out on his own attempt to occupy the Oval Office. He also ran an undercover sting to uncover illegal gun trafficking in other states…without notifying the ATF or FBI. That put the lives of federal agents in jeopardy and was subsequently chastised by his own police chief and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bloomberg is also the financier of Everytown for Gun Safety and their mouthpiece The Trace, the gun control group that now has office space in The White House, along with other gun control projects he’s funding, such as Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action and the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. When you pay that much money to fund gun control, universities name an entire school after you.
During this so-called “pause” in exports, the Commerce Department will conduct a “policy review to determine if changes are warranted to advance U.S. national security and policy interests.” Of course, this raises concerns that under the guise of human rights, the Biden administration will actually attempt to undo the USML-CCL reforms, extend the “pause” indefinitely, impose unwarranted regulatory burdens to increase costs to exporters and close off overseas markets to American firearm manufacturers.
All firearm and ammunition exports, of course, are subject to Defense and State Department review, which can halt exports if there are concerns. Firearm and ammunition license applications undergo a 100 percent end-user check by the BIS Office of Export Enforcement. They do this regardless of how long a company has been doing business with a particular customer, regardless of how many times the buyer was subjected to an end-user check and regardless of whether BIS has no derogatory information on that customer, even if the end-user was recently approved.
At present, no other commodity is subject to this same 100 percent check requirement. The kicker is that The White House has complete authority to regulate the export of firearms. That’s what exposes this “pause” as being purely politically motivated.
In July, the Biden administration sought to create a new division within BIS called “Embargoes and Human Rights.” With the assistance of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Commerce, Justice and Science, this creation of the division was blocked. It could be that the export “pause” is political payback.
There’s no right to export and the decision to grant or deny a license is purely a function of the national security and foreign policy assessment of those in charge. The USML-CCL reforms give the administration complete and essential unfettered discretion. BIS invoked national security and foreign affairs as the reason for the pause.
Congressional reaction to this move comes through the power of the purse. Congress can – and must – act through appropriations to ensure that the Biden administration is held accountable for its attempt to kneecap the industry through this unprecedented halt in exports
This is a naked attempt by the Biden administration to hobble the firearm industry, which President Biden made more than clear he despises. It’s also a shameless favor to the gun control industry that have bought their way into The White House and are now using foreign policy to exert their influence over domestic policy.
The American firearm industry has been called the “arsenal of democracy” because a strong and robust small arms manufacturing base has armed and equipped our law enforcement at home and our military and allies abroad. President Biden’s export “pause” is an attempt to weaken that capability and diminish the industry that provides the means for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.