Senator Elizabeth Warren angry
Senator Elizabeth Warren on the warpath (Shutterstock)
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If you didn’t watch the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Advancing National Security and Foreign Policy Through Export Controls: Oversight of the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), no one will blame you for missing out. I endured the pain for you.

The spectacle was made more agonizing by antigun Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) complaining they can’t use their Senate roosts to block firearm exports. This was root-canal level of pain.

The agony is that these two senators are still trying to undo export reforms (“Export Control Reform – ECR”) initiated by the Obama administration and finalized for sporting firearms and ammunition products under the Trump administration.

It took more than a decade to transition export licensing responsibility for firearms and ammunition to the Department of Commerce – Bureau of Industry Security (BIS) from the Department of State – Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). The bipartisan ECR actually enhanced national security by allowing the State Department to focus on what Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates called “the crown jewels” – military hardware like tanks, missiles, fighter jets, and artillery – while allowing Commerce to oversee exports of commercial products including sporting and commercial firearms.

Human Rights Claims

The witness was Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Alan Estevez, whose nomination by President Biden Sen. Menendez blocked until he extracted a change to the export administration regulations (“EAR”) that I’ll explain later.

Senator Robert Menendez New Jersey
Senator Robert Menendez (Shutterstock)

In his questioning of Under Secretary Estevez, Sen. Menendez tried to characterize the BIS licensing process as lacking with concerns to human rights reviews. This, of course, isn’t true.

Every single firearm export license application goes through an interagency review by the Department of Commerce (DoC), Department of State (DoS) including the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Energy (DoE). Any agency involved can block an export license. That’s right, the State Department can stop an export on human rights grounds.

Or course, Sen. Menendez knows this because he is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that has jurisdiction over the State Department. Additionally, BIS uses the interagency resources to check foreign parties against all the U.S. Government’s watch lists to ensure nothing is being exported to places or people the United States does not want.

If that’s not enough, all firearm license applications undergo a 100 percent end-user check by BIS’s Office of Export Enforcement (OEE), even if that purchaser was just checked by OEE last month, last week or yesterday. No other industry, and no other commodity controlled by BIS, undergoes 100 percent end-user checks.

Sen. Menendez’s real problem is that the new voluntary BIS rule implementing Congressional Notification for semiautomatic firearms being exported to certain countries doesn’t allow Congress to disapprove the license. This is the rule change extracted from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to allow the Senate to vote on Mr. Estevez’s nomination. He wants the ability for Congress to say “no” to a sale that has been approved after interagency review.

Prior to the ECR, when DDTC licensed the export of commercial firearms, Congress required DDTC, after the same interagency review described above, to give it notice of sales over $1 million dollars (virtually all firearm exports). But the truth is – as Chairman Menendez knows – Congress has never stopped an export of firearms after receiving notice.

‘Rubber Stamp’ Claims

Sen. Warren wasn’t to be left out. She demanded – again – that all semiautomatic firearms be banned for export, and export control of firearms transferred back to the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). She then pivoted to math that only Congress can understand.

Sen. Warren claimed that BIS approved $15.7 billion in firearm licenses in a 16-month period versus $12 billion approved by DDTC in a similar period. Under Secretary of Commerce Estevez tried to correct her by saying the BIS figure includes all weapons, not just firearms. Sen. Warren even insultingly asked Under Secretary Estevez whether BIS was working for the United States or “the gun industry.”

calculation blackboard black board woman confusing

Sen. Warren stuck to her own fuzzy math, claiming this showed a “30 percent increase in firearm exports,” which is untrue. The selective “facts” didn’t end there.

She ignored that the State Department can deny exports in their reviews to castigate BIS that “only .4 percent of license applications are denied.” This set her up to wrongly claim firearm exports are going to “bad” countries like Mexico or the Philippines. In fact, BIS has been doing a deep review of all licenses for these two countries, and if a license is granted, BIS has in some cases added restrictions and reporting requirements.

Sen. Warren’s big “.4 percent denial” claim is deliberately misleading. This figure is merely a percentage of total license applications and has nothing to do with commodities being licenses, the value of those licenses or the countries of intended export. It doesn’t account for hundreds of applications for firearm parts, or small firearm or ammunition orders, not to mention the thousand-plus applications for individuals in Brazil alone, most of which have nothing to do with semiautomatic firearms. License denials from DDTC are an equally small percentage.


Sen. Warren was clearly looking for a “made-for-television” campaign moment. The problem is her facts were so slanted, they fell on their own before she even had the chance to trample them.

When it comes to U.S. export controls, Sens. Menendez and Warren have one goal – stop legal firearm exports any way they can. They want to use BIS as an instrument to cause economic harm to members of our industry.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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  1. “Senator Elizabeth Warren on the warpath (Shutterstock)”

    Oh I get it. It’s because of the high cheekbones, right?

  2. Well, everyone gets their Corn Flakes pissed in sometime. Let’s just hope it happens more often to her.

    • A glimpse into the firearms logic of Liberal Progressive Democrats. If a police officer shoots a violent criminal. It’s the police officers fault. If a violent criminal shoots anyone. it’s the guns fault.

    • Fauxcahontas speaketh with forked tongue.. did Sitting BS protest slow Joe “exporting” $87000000000 to Afghanistan???

  3. Honestly, the more OUTRAGED Democrats are, the better. It makes me happy. It makes owning ARs and AKs with standard capacity magazines and some that aren’t, and everything else they hate, like an arm brace, that much more satisfying.

    Keep it up Demonrats, your anger and outrage is my happiness and joy, I truly hope you hate my guts.

      • Standard….yes 30. I also have a 10 round magazine for my AK (it came with it) and Circle 10 forty round magazines. I hope some democrat reads this and it pisses them off. That would make me feel warm and fuzzy all over.

        • Sometimes a 10-rd magazine is useful. Some prone shooting, for example. Or to force a reload during a shooting drill.

    • I’m always hopeful that all the outrage will cause their sorry asses to stroke out. On national tv.

    • @GWB

      “Sometimes a 10-rd magazine is useful.”

      They work well as paper weights and sometimes door stops too.

  4. What’s the deal about exporting arms, hell that’s about all America has left to export.
    It’s big buisness and that woman wants to shut it down.
    These people are turning America into the new Sri Lanka.
    Just change the name from Packarats to Democrats

    • agree! not sure why they’d care about moving guns out of the US. seems like the Ds would love doing that. i don’t get it.

    • Because gun manufacturers tend to support Republicans, so they must be destroyed. It’s the same reason the fossil fuels industry must be ended. It’s being done under the guise of climate change and gun violence. It all comes back to political power.

  5. What exactly has the banning [or not] of firearms to do with domestic Gun Control legislation? I know thatb the USA exports a bloody lot of Defence material and that there has to be export licensing so why not for all exported arms Just asking

    • Maybe it’s got something to do with those 12 virt sig gunms the citizens of Florida turned in to give to the Ucranes?
      Oh sorry Domestic Gunm Control, gunms have been domesticated for a long time. Theres really no reason to control [regulate with force] them anymore.

    • @Albert L J Hall

      “What exactly has the banning [or not] of firearms to do with domestic Gun Control legislation?”

      You frequently express in your posts that you don’t have the slightest understanding of the subject of firearms, the second amendment, firearms ownership, firearms use, defensive gun use, the crime issue we face, the acts of anti-gun being intentionally anti-constitutional and oppressive and allowing outside anti-gun interest to basically operate the democrat legislature, and even don’t have an understanding of use of force.

      You think you are hiding your ignorance for these, throwing about disconnected terms and false hoods you have seen repeated in many anti-gun slogans sometimes repeating them verbatim, and for firearms in general for which you display very little to no knowledge almost like you partially read every third word in an incomplete on line ‘instruction’ manual. Then your so very very pitiful and ignorant understanding of the Constitution and what it stands for and is.

      I can kind of overlook some of that in a way and just put it down to gross incompetence on your part because you have such a confirmation bias issue.

      But then you sometimes you come along with a question such as this from you I quoted above that shows so obviously how ignorant you are in this subject, that you can’t make the connection between the various parts of the issue to see the overall efforts at imposing a (form of) tyranny by the president and democrats and the anti-gun special interest and the attempt to do away with, by controlling and diminishing, ALL constitutional rights for the benefit of government. This is not just about the second amendment. Its also about anti-gun special interest and democrats and the president attempting to effect a ‘coup’ over the constitution to control its application as they see fit – thus taking from the people their rightful and inherent power and will to control government and maintain the freedom the Constitution is suppose to protect from government infringement, or in other words they are trying to install a tyranny.

      You (or so you claim) living in the U.K. being (presumably) born and raised there under the modern day form of feudal tyranny in the U.K. (and also present in the rest of Europe in their versions), that imparts a certain lack of understanding for you (or someone from Europe) that causes you to regard these issues in a void of ignorance you seek to relate in a manner for what you know from your own upbringing. After all, being born and raised in a feudal tyranny imparts a certain mindset in regards to your government tyranny as seeing such anti-constitutional actions in the anti-gun area here in the U.S. as in line with your ‘normal’ because your country (and the rest of Europe) has never had an actual freedom environment where the power and will of the people is suppose to reign supreme in controlling government like its suppose to under our Constitution here in the United States.

      • Clarification:

        “the people” as used in my post means those who are not the government reigning powers.

        The government reigning powers today, in relation to anti-gun, consist of the anti-gun lobby special interest, the democrat party, the president of the United States and those in the executive and judicial branch that hold the same views as these. If you listen carefully to the democrat anti-gun rhetoric and examine it closely you will find its the same mostly false concepts and ideas that were first introduced by the anti-gun lobby representing the special interest groups. For example, Michael Bloomberg started the idea of attacking firearms exports in 2019, and pushed that idea into the 2020 campaign of Joe Biden who started alluding to it indirectly in a few of his campaign speeches. anti-gun special interest is basically running our government in terms of anti-gun agendas of government and the democrats are in lock step with them because they too want that power to control rights and mold society in their image away from the constitution.

        • @Albert L J Hall

          But… I’m still going to draw the obvious lines for you ..

          “Albert L J Hall

          “What exactly has the banning [or not] of firearms to do with domestic Gun Control legislation?”

          The answer is simple… its the $$$banbasicslly: if they can ban exports they can cripple the firearms companies financially. Which means fire arms companies either go under and out of business or will need to scale way back on firearms for in country. Which in effect is another way to “ban” by reducing or removing the supply.

          That’s what it has to do with banning.

        • @Albert L J Hall

          In addition to me answering your question..

          Doing this from the financial aspect of banning exports, is also in effect banning exercise of the second amendment. In effect of those companies that did not go out if business, they would need to raise prices, to stay in business, to approximately double (maybe more) what they are now for all fire arms AR-15 or not thus pricing a large segment of the population out of being able to exercise the second amendment.

          Its sneaky way to get a ban of some kind without calling it a ban.

          Biden tried this for his lame and ineffective 1994 ban. But it did not get included. He too back then wanted to try this multi prong attack ‘see what stcks’ approach including exploring banning export back then. Overall it failed miserably, and its going to fail miserably this time too.

  6. U can’t fix stupid,with these two corrupt,senators that lie every time they open their pie holes.One is a fake indian, the other a fake senator, what more do we need?


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