(Image courtesy of the NRA-ILA via Facebook)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to recent acts by the federal Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) here, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has joined Republican colleagues in introducing the Protect American Gun Exporter (PAGE) Act.
That proposal, introduced into the 118th Congress on Dec. 18, seeks to undermine a recent 90-day pause on the issuance of new export licenses for firearms, ammunition and component parts to non-governmental end users in most foreign countries.
“The arbitrary halt of firearm export licenses by the Biden administration lacks both justification and necessity,” according to Lee.
Without prior consultation with industry stakeholders, the federal Bureau of Industry and Security (a unit of the Department of Commerce) enacted a sweeping and unprecedented pause on export licenses for the U.S. firearms industry on Oct. 27.
Lee’s staff and those of his co-sponsors on the PAGE Act call that decision “unnecessary and legally questionable.”
Further, they say a pause in previously routine exports could potentially cost the domestic firearms industry upwards of $90 million, an act that not only threatens their financial stability but also the jobs of countless American gun artisans.
The export pause is just the latest of gun control measures announced by Biden bureaucrats since export control for most commercial arms, ammunition and accessories was moved from the State Department to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in 2020.
The Oct. 27 announcement of the export pause on the BIS website provides little reason for why the “pause” is necessary beyond noting that the “pause” “will enable the Department to more effectively assess and mitigate risk of firearms being diverted to entities or activities that promote regional instability, violate human rights or fuel criminal activities.”
But American gun rights advocates argue that the export pause will simply ensure that overseas demand for firearms, ammunition and covered accessories will be met by foreign suppliers who do not share America’s interest in regional stability, human rights or reducing criminal activities.
Nor is the export ban the Biden administration’s only effort to make life more difficult for anyone who would dare own a gun or operate a firearm-related business.
On the same day that the PAGE Act was being introduced in the Senate, staffers were meeting with Democratic state lawmakers across town in the White House. The purpose of that gathering was to strong-arm state officials into enacting anti-gun policies that had failed to gain traction at federal level.
Since the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention was established in September, its staff has eagerly promoted the administration’s goal of limiting 2nd Amendment rights whenever possible.
The White House anti-gun agenda calls for local authorities to establish offices of gun violence at state level; invest in evidence-informed solutions to gun violence; strengthen support for victims of gun violence; reinforce responsible gun ownership; strengthen background checks for gun purchases; and hold the gun industries accountable for misuse of its products.
“This unprecedented pause on commercial firearm exports is yet another example of the Biden administration’s attempts to make firearms commerce more difficult and shows their disdain for the right to self-defense,” according to Randy Kozuch, the executive director of Institute for Legislative Action at the National Rifle Association.
But Lee said that the PAGE Act would guard firearms manufacturers against “ … capricious policy shifts that unfairly target livelihoods simple because of industry affiliation.”
That legislation would prohibit the Secretary of Commerce from imposing blanket pauses on export licenses and prevent the commerce secretary from implementing unilateral policy changes after his department’s assessment of current export controls on firearm products.
Joining Lee in co-sponsoring the PAGE Act are Senators John Thune (R-SD), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Braun (R-IN), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rick Scott (R-FL).
The PAGE Act is also endorsed by Heritage Action, the NRA-ILA, the Gun Owners of America and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.