Vice President Kamala Harris told a group of gun control activists that she is encouraged by advances the Biden administration has made in implementing its gun control agenda.
Speaking to Gun Sense University, an annual gathering sponsored by Everytown for Gun Safety, Ms. Harris said Americans support “common sense gun safety laws.”
“Gun safety is not only good policy, it’s good politics,” Ms. Harris told the gathering in Chicago on Aug. 12.
Gun rights activists say Ms. Harris’s optimism is warranted but not because the public as a whole supports her position. They say a minority of congressional Republicans tipped the scales in favor of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) in June 2022.
This led to a March 14, 2023 executive order enlisting a litany of federal agencies to find ways to implement aspects of the BSCA without congressional oversight or approval, they say. The Second Amendment advocates say one of those changes could eliminate legal private gun sales.
The White House did not respond to an email seeking comment for this story.
Concerns were raised by an Aug. 1 New York Times report that gun control activists want to require those who buy and sell guns “for a profit” through private online sales to have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and to follow all the guidelines brick and mortar gun dealers have to follow.
The websites are not regulated as gun dealers because they don’t sell guns. Private sellers can post guns for sale. Currently, all sales must comply with applicable laws, including that shipping firearms be done by an FFL holder. Buying guns for and selling guns to people who cannot legally own them is also illegal.
The BCSA, which Ms. Harris and other fans of the law called “the most significant gun safety legislation in 30 years,” changed the definition of a gun dealer from a business that buys and sells firearms with the objective of “livelihood and profit,” to simply the objective of making a profit.
“The BCSA removed the ‘livelihood’ element so that profit seeking alone would fulfill the required objective of the sales,” a National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) statement reads. “Nevertheless, it has remained unclear where the lines are to be drawn.”
The New York Times story claims gun control activists want to classify anyone who sells five or fewer each year as a gun dealer. Under this rule, a person who makes $1 by selling one gun in a year would be required to have an FFL and follow all the regulations a large retail store would have to follow.
This would include performing background checks and keeping records of all guns sold.
There are reports that the Biden administration has ordered the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to issue a rule to clarify what constitutes a gun dealer.
According to the Second Amendment advocates, the rule would effectively outlaw private transfers of firearms and institute a de facto universal background check and a national gun registry system.
An ATF spokesperson said any rule will be handled in accordance with rulemaking policies.
“As part of the implementation of the BSCA, ATF is developing a proposed rule and going through the proper process. We cannot specify a time when the NPRM will be announced, but like all notices of proposed rulemaking, the public will be notified when it is submitted to the federal register,” ATF spokeswoman Kristina Mastropasqua wrote in an email to The Epoch Times.
Aidan Johnston, director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America, said that a private citizen who made a $1 profit by selling a gun they no longer wanted to a family member or friend would have to be licensed by the government. They would also be subject to the ATF’s zero-tolerance policy.
Mr. Johnston told The Epoch Times that getting an FFL is an ordeal. Trying to follow the government’s complicated rules makes the burden more cumbersome.
“It’s not as simple as ‘get this book and get this license, and you’ll be good,’” Mr. Johnston said.
The Second Amendment supporters say the change would virtually eliminate private sales.
“The BCSA has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving for extreme persecutory gun control, to the mortification of some of its more moderate supporters who thought they were voting for provision aimed at reducing crime and increasing access to mental health care,” reads a statement on the NRA-ILA website.
Gun Control Making Headway
They say that if something isn’t done, gun control forces will continue to make headway in what the gun rights supporters call a fight to disarm the public.
“The other side wants everything, they want the Second Amendment,” Mr. Johnston said.
Speaking to the Gun Sense University gathering, Ms. Harris disagreed with that assessment. She said she supports the Second Amendment but believes some things must be regulated more heavily to make communities safer. She credited the attendees with helping get the BSCA passed.
“And that’s why, it’s because of your action that we had momentum on the inside to pass this historic legislation. I will tell you it is historic, and it is a drop in the bucket because we still have so much more to do,” Ms. Harris said. “And that is about universal background checks, it is about the assault weapons ban, it is about all of those things.”
According to Ms. Harris, stricter gun laws will save lives. Mr. Johnston said the opposite is true.
He said criminals would not bother getting licensed, keeping records, or running background checks. The only thing the change would do is make law-abiding citizens and society less safe.
“This law is only going to apply to law-abiding gun owners. It’s not going to save a single life,” he said.
Alan Gottlieb, executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, said the push is a cynical attempt to get around current prohibitions on gun regulation to disarm citizens.
“Joe Biden is using the ATF to attack the firearms industry and gun owners every chance he gets. These backdoor attempts are aimed at getting around Congress as they have refused to pass his radical legislative agenda,” Mr. Gottlieb wrote in an email to The Epoch Times.
GOA Calls for Opposition
Mr. Johnston said gun owners who oppose this move must prepare to act now. He said Gun Owners of America is already preparing to sue the government over the rule when it goes into effect. He said gun owners must flood the ATF website when the public comments period is open for the rule.
“Every gun owner needs to prepare their public comments now,” Mr. Johnston said.
In addition to making their displeasure clear to the ATF and Biden administration, Mr. Johnston said the comments could be used in the lawsuit. He added that all gun owners should support pro-Second Amendment legislators and leaders and start pushing for the BSCA repeal.
“This law has got to go,” Mr. Johnston said.
Mr. Gottlieb agreed.
“The Biden administration has no respect for constitutional rights like the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights.” Mr. Gottlieb wrote.