Rep. James Comer, the chair of the U.S. House Oversight Committee, has requested the Biden administration to provide records concerning its recent decision to temporarily halt issuing export licenses for most civilian firearms and ammunition. Expressing concern for the impact on the U.S. firearms manufacturing industry, Comer seeks “a full accounting of this action and how it will impact U.S. firearms manufacturers and the jobs that industry provides.”
Commerce Department’s 90-day pause has exceptions for export licenses to Ukraine, Israel, and other close allies. The department said in October that it is conducting an urgent review to assess the “risk of firearms being diverted to entities that promote regional instability, violate human rights, or fuel criminal activities.”
Comer’s letter requests all documents and communications between the Commerce Department and the White House on the issue by Dec. 13 and a staff briefing by Dec. 6.
Earlier this month, 46 Republican senators expressed “significant concerns about the justifications for and ramifications of this pause,” citing an industry association’s estimate of a direct cost of at least $89 million from the 90-day pause.
Republican Representative Mark Green, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, led a separate letter from more than 80 lawmakers seeking answers on the pause.
The Republican party has consistently defended gun ownership rights under the U.S. Constitution, while many Democrats have called for new restrictions after a series of mass shootings.
The halt covers most of the guns and ammunition that could be purchased in a U.S. gun store, affecting overseas customers including distributors and stores that sell firearms.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese; Editing by Sonali Paul)