On Friday, the Biden Administration announced that there would be a 90 day “pause” on commercial firearm exports. The “pause” comes amid other administrative actions and a commitment by this administration to exhaust every option to make firearms commerce more difficult.
In 2020, 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).
The “pause” is by far the most drastic move that BIS has taken to restrict firearm exports since it took over jurisdiction. One might expect such a major change in policy to be front and center on a government agency’s website, but notice of the “pause” was hidden at the bottom of the BIS’s “FAQ” Page.
The notice on the FAQ page also gives 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.”
That statement and the timing seem to indicate that the “pause” is in response to recent reporting by Bloomberg targeting the Commerce Department for “exporting” American “gun culture” at “unprecedented levels.” Bloomberg even appears to be taking credit for the “freeze” (as they call it).
Israel, Ukraine, and the countries of the Wassenaar Arrangement are excluded from the “pause.” As are export applications to foreign governments.
As with other export restrictions on the American firearm industry, all this move will do is ensure that foreign demand for firearms, ammunition, and covered accessories is met by foreign suppliers who do not share America’s interest in regional stability, human rights, or reducing criminal activities.