Senators Warn Rule Will Hurt U.S. Economy, Open Door for Illicit Arms Dealers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), along with 22 colleagues, today called on Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to withdraw an interim final rule that will severely restrict the ability of American firearm, ammunition, and related component manufacturers to obtain a license to export their products for sale to non-government end users.

In a letter to Raimondo, the Senators said the interim final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, through the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), fails to properly weigh the impact the rule will have on the American economy and opens the door for foreign actors, like China, to fill the vacuum as U.S. exports of firearms, related components, and ammunition dwindle.

“The Department’s actions over the past year— including the controversial and unusual export pause on October 27, 2023, this unprecedented rulemaking, and the Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) decision to curtail the promotion of firearms exports — collectively serve as yet another example of the Biden administration using the administrative state to target legal U.S. industries and advance progressive policies without meaningful consideration of the impact on U.S. commercial, economic, national security, and foreign policy interests,” the Senators wrote.

The letter pointed out that BIS failed to provide any data concerning the economic impact of the rule, which is required by law.  The rule, which becomes effective May 30, would permanently extend a current “pause” on such export licenses and rescind approximately 2,000 active export licenses for certain firearms.  Hyde-Smith was among a large group of Senators who blasted the 90-day pause announced last October.

The Senators criticized the BIS national security justifications as “dubious,” and warned that unilaterally revoking existing licensing to 36 countries and installing a new licensing system “is likely to encourage foreign actors, like China, to fill the vacuum in firearms-related exports, bolstering illicit arms dealers to the detriment of legitimate U.S. businesses and leading to further adverse effects on U.S. commercial, economic, national security, and foreign policy interests.”

“We are concerned that the Department issued the Rule in an attempt to intentionally harm the firearms industry.  As you know, many of these businesses rely on the export of firearms, related components, ammunition, and related assistance activities for such products to meet their bottom lines,” the Senators wrote.  “We, therefore, call upon you to withdraw this deeply misguided rule and its associated license revocations.”

U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) led the letter, which was also signed by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), JD Vance (R-Ohio), and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.).

Read the signed letter, with footnotes, here.