Thursday, February 29, 2024

Commerce Secretary Refuses to Answer House Chair on Firearms Export Licenses

On October 27, 2023, the Bureau of Industry and Security announced it would stop issuing export licenses for most countries, for firearms, components and ammunition, with some exceptions. On November 28, 2023, Jim Comer, the Republican  Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability in the House, sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, asking for information and a briefing on the decision. From the letter:

We write to request information on the recent decision by U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) to cease issuing new export licenses related to certain firearms, firearm components, and ammunition for approximately 90 days. This action has raised concern about a possible extra legal attempt by the Biden Administration to harm the domestic firearms manufacturing industry in pursuit of an anti-firearm agenda by starving it of access to international markets for at least 90 days, perhaps indefinitely.1 The Department’s mission is to “drive U.S. economic competitiveness, strengthen domestic industry, and spur the growth of quality jobs in all communities across the country.”2 Your Department’s recent decision appears to be at direct odds with its mission in service to the political whims of a radical anti-firearm administration. We seek and expect your Department’s cooperation in providing additional information to determine a full accounting of this action and how it will impact U.S. firearms manufacturers and the jobs that industry provides.

The deadline to respond to the letter by Chairman Comer was December 12, 2023. That deadline has come and gone without any significant response by Secretary Raimondo and the Department of Commerce.  On January 19, 2024, Chairman Comer sent a followup letter. From the letter:

The deadline for Commerce to produce the requested information was December 12, 2023. Commerce is now more than five weeks delinquent in satisfying those requests. Despite attempts by Committee staff to obtain status updates on Commerce’s efforts to identify and produce the requested documents, Commerce has failed to provide any substantive status updates or a timeline of their activities working toward production. Furthermore, instead of providing the requested briefing or documents, Commerce held what it dubbed a “listening session” with congressional staff on December 15, 2023, providing only vague responses to limited questions in a half-hour format.

Accordingly, we write to reiterate our outstanding requests for documents and information in our November 28, 2023, request. If Commerce continues to fail to produce the requested documents by January 26, 2024, we will consider other measures, including the use of compulsory process, to gain compliance and obtain this material.


The Biden administration has been the most hostile to the Americans firearms industry in history.  In 2023,, ran a series of articles complaining about American guns and gun culture being exported to other countries. This action by the Biden administration appears to be a coordinated attack on American firearms manufacturers, under the theory "Guns are bad." The NRA has a detailed article published on AmmoLand. The "pause" supposedly ended on January 24th. The NRA says 90 Congresscritters are demanding an extension of the export ban.

The administrative bureaucracies in the executive branch have lost fear of Congress. The major bureaucracies were erected during Progressive administrations as part of the Progressive plan to create a government which was not limited by the Constitution and the separation of powers into three branches of government. Up until the Obama administration, the House and Senate retained some control, because they could threaten to cut budgets to agencies which wandered too far from Congressional intent. In practice this meant if the excesses of an agency become too public and too extreme, Congress could cut their budget, as it did with the Center for Disease Control in 1996.  The 1996 response to the CDC came because they were using their funding to produce anti-Second Amendment propaganda.

With the Obama administration and the continuing resolution from 2008, the administrative agencies slipped the bonds of Congressional budgets. In practical effect, Congress no longer has the ability to control bureaucracies' budgets.  This is why Democrats fight against a return to a normal budget process.  The willingness of administrative bureaucracies to snub Congressional oversight shows a serious weakness in the fabric of the Republic.


©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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