American guns aren’t leaving American shores as the Biden Administration’s “pause” on export licenses extends past 90 days. This week, federal lawmakers weighed in on the temporary ban.
On one side, four prominent Democrats asked for the pause to be pushed out until the Commerce Department adds a slew of new restrictions to the licensing process. On the other, Republicans trashed the leaked draft we published last week showing how Commerce wants to implement a pseudo-registry on foreign gun buyers that would be administered by American exporters.
I spoke with one of those exporters at the gun industry’s trade show in Las Vegas. He lays out why he believes the Commerce plan would ruin his business in a Reload Member exclusive report.
In more bad news for the industry, Mexico’s lawsuit trying to hold American gun makers liable for murders south of the border was allowed to process in spite of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
We also found out that Donald Trump, fresh off wins in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, will speak at a special event during the NRA’s Great American Outdoor Show in Pennsylvania next month. Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman also did a deep dive into how a disagreement on what historical laws matter is at the center of the fight over 18-to-20-year-olds’ gun rights.
Plus, pro-gun author Mark W. Smith joins the podcast to explain the strange maneuvering in the Maryland AR-15 ban case. And we have a new sponsor for this week’s newsletter. The Dispatch, which I’m a subscriber to and I’ve written for in the past, is offering a 90-day free trial to Relaod readers. I’ve long enjoyed their reporting-first approach, and I think you will too.
Democrats Push to Extend Gun Export Pause as Republicans Slam Permanent Proposal
By Stephen Gutowski
Prominent Democrats want the Biden Administration to continue blocking gun exports, while Republicans attacked the plan to replace the total ban.
On Tuesday, four Democratic congressional leaders wrote a letter to the Commerce Department asking it to extend the 90-day pause on firearms exports. Senators Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) teamed with Representatives Joaquin Castro (D., Texas 20) and Norma Torres (D., Calif. 35) to urge Secretary Gina Raimondo to keep the ban in place past its potential expiration on Thursday. It also recommended a slew of new restrictions Commerce should adopt before lifting the ban.
“Clearly, a brief 90-day pause in export license approvals and promotion is insufficient to address the breadth of the problem,” the letter said. “Before it ends this pause, Commerce must make significant changes to its export license approval and monitoring policies.”
Las Vegas, Nevada — Jordan Young sits in a small booth among hundreds in the Venetian Expo Center on the Vegas Strip. He’s working to recruit new customers for his firearms export business, Global Defense. But he worries the Biden Administration’s plan to restrict those exports will make the effort pointless.
“I would be done,” Young told The Reload. “Out of business.”
Over the past 90 days, the Commerce Department has “paused” issuing new gun export licenses while it reviews its regulations in an effort it has said is designed to prevent American-made guns from falling into the wrong hands. Exporters like Young can still operate under their previously granted licenses, but the licenses come with restrictions on quantity. Plus, Young said Commerce was slowing down licensing even before the pause.
“I started seeing a backup in July in the summer,” he said. “I’ve gotten four licenses since last July.”
He used to get about five per month.
Appeals Court Revives Mexico’s Lawsuit Against US Gunmakers
By Jake Fogleman
Mexico can once again sue America’s largest firearms manufacturers and wholesalers over criminal gun trafficking through the southern border.
On Monday, a three-judge panel for the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision dismissing Mexico’s $10 billion civil liability suit under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). The panel found that Mexico’s claims were exempted from the law’s liability shield and ordered the lawsuit to proceed.
“We agree that the PLCAA’s limitations on the types of lawsuits that may be maintained in the United States apply to lawsuits initiated by foreign governments for harm suffered outside the United States,” Judge William J. Kayatta wrote in Mexico v. Smith & Wesson. “However, we also hold that Mexico’s complaint plausibly alleges a type of claim that is statutorily exempt from the PLCAA’s general prohibition. We therefore reverse the district court’s holding that the PLCAA bars Mexico’s common law claims, and we remand for further proceedings.”
Trump to Speak at NRA Outdoor Show in Pennsylvania
By Stephen Gutowski
Former President Donald Trump will speak to members of the nation’s largest gun-rights group early next month.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) announced on Monday the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 nomination will attend the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on February 9th. The group said Trump would be speaking at a newly-created event called the NRA Presidential Forum.
“President Trump’s unwavering support for the Second Amendment, and his track record of protecting the rights of gun owners make him an exemplary speaker for this momentous event,” Charles Cotton, the group’s president, said in a statement. “His fellow NRA members can’t wait to hear from him for the eighth time.”
Podcast: Mark W. Smith on the Game Being Played With the Maryland AR-15 Ban Case
By Stephen Gutowski
This week, we are discussing a number of legal developments. So, we’ve got one of the preeminent pro-gun legal minds on the show.
Mark W. Smith, host of the Four Boxes Diner and member of the Supreme Court bar, joins me to talk about some complicated but fascinating cases. First and foremost, Smith explains why the case against Maryland’s “assault weapons” ban has been moved on to be heard before the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals without the lower court panel that already held arguments issuing any decision. Smith predicted that might happen.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I talk about how a board member’s letter brought the NRA’s internal turmoil back out into the open.
Are age-based restrictions on gun rights for young adults constitutional? Or are they incompatible with the right of the people to keep and bear arms? The answer, it seems, depends on your view of history.
A three-judge panel for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals contributed to the recent trend of federal courts casting doubt on gun restrictions for adults under 21 on Thursday. It struck down a Pennsylvania law prohibiting that group from carrying firearms during emergency declarations.
“Through the combined operation of three statutes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania effectively bans 18-to-20- year-olds from carrying firearms outside their homes during a state of emergency,” Judge Kent A. Jordan wrote in Lara v. Comm’r Pa. State Police. “The words ‘the people’ in the Second Amendment presumptively encompass all adult Americans, including 18- to-20-year-olds, and we are aware of no founding-era law that supports disarming people in that age group.”
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Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.