The Biden administration has proposed a rule that would essentially classify any American who sells guns as a firearms dealer, thereby tightening gun control measures in the country.
At present, individuals can engage in selling firearms for profit without having to be a registered firearm dealer. The new rules would classify gun sales under business activities and require that individuals engaged in it get a license as well as undertake background checks.
“Specifically, the proposed rule, if finalized, would clarify that an individual would be presumed to be ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing in firearms—and therefore be required to become a licensed firearms dealer and run background checks—if they meet certain conditions,” said an Aug. 31 White House statement.
The rules would be applicable if the individual offers for sale any firearms, repetitively offers for sale firearms within 30 days after being purchased or if the firearms were new in their original packaging or if they sell multiple firearms of the same make and model.
The White House added that a formerly federally-licensed firearms dealer would also come under the categorization if they “sell firearms that were in the business inventory and not transferred to a personal collection at least a year before the sale.”
Based on the proposal, the definition of a “firearms dealer” is said to undergo changes.
“An increasing number of individuals engaged in the business of selling firearms for profit have chosen not to register as federal firearms licensees, as required by law,” said the DOJ’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Steven Dettelbach.
“Instead, they have sought to make money through the off-book, illicit sale of firearms. These activities undermine the law, endanger public safety, create significant burdens on law enforcement, and are unfair to the many licensed dealers who make considerable efforts to follow the law.
“The Gun Control Act’s exceptions to the license requirement exist to allow all law-abiding Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights—not to facilitate the intentional evasion of the background-check system. This new proposed rule would clarify the circumstances in which a person is ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing in firearms, and thus required to obtain a license and follow the laws Congress has established for firearms dealers.”
Critics have slammed the gun control move by the administration, with Gun Owners of America claiming that the proposed regulations will “further enhance the ATF’s illegal gun registry and will make it much harder for private individuals to sell guns—effectively forcing them to either become a gun dealer or take time off work to coordinate trips (with potential gun buyers) to find a gun store.”
Erich Pratt, GOA’s senior vice president, called the proposal “the next step in the anti-gunners’ long-form playbook to enact backdoor universal registration of firearms, and eventually, to confiscate all firearms. They will not stop until that day.”
“First, they said five guns, but now, anyone who sells a single firearm in a given year and makes even a penny of profit will be subject to dealer requirements, including a background check.”
Last year, Congress passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) that expanded the definition of “engaging in the business of firearms dealing” to cover all people who “devote time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business to predominately earn a profit.”
According to the Biden administration, an individual will be assumed to be engaging in firearms sales if they create a website or make business cards to advertise a firearms business; maintain records that track the profits and losses from the sale of guns; buy business insurance or rent space at a gun show.
Gun Sale ‘Loopholes’
Together, the proposed DOJ rules are aimed at ending the “gun show loophole” or “internet loophole” in federal law, claims the White House, referring to the sale of firearms at gun shows or at online marketplaces by unlicensed dealers.
At present, federal law does not require unlicensed private firearms sellers to do background checks on gun purchasers.
The new definitions will not apply to people who are not selling guns with the aim of making money. This includes individuals who have a gun they no longer need and wish to sell it to a family member or those who buy/sell “collectible” firearms as a hobby.
BSCA “was passed by Congress to reduce gun violence, including by expanding the background checks that keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
“This proposed rule implements Congress’s mandate to expand the definition of who must obtain a license and conduct a background check before selling firearms.”
In an Aug. 14 statement, the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) pointed out that prior to BCSA, an individual would have only needed to become a Federal firearm licensee (FFL) if their repeated trade of guns had a “principal objective” of “livelihood and profit.”
The BCSA removed the term “livelihood,” thus broadening who would need a federal firearms license to sell guns.
Expanding Gun Control
Second Amendment advocates predict the new rules being pushed by the Biden administration could essentially outlaw private firearm transfers.
Aidan Johnston, director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America, told The Epoch Times that getting an FFL and following government rules are very complicated. “It’s not as simple as ‘get this book and get this license, and you’ll be good.’”
While those who push for gun control advocate that it saves lives, Mr. Johnston thinks otherwise.
He noted that criminals don’t even bother getting licensed, keeping records, or running background checks. “This law is only going to apply to law-abiding gun owners. It’s not going to save a single life.”
In a recent speech, President Biden used the Aug. 26 Jacksonville, Florida, shooting that killed three Black people to push for stricter gun regulation.
“I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years. But we must not stop until we ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
In March, President Biden signed an executive order that aimed to increase background checks conducted prior to gun sales.
Despite the Biden administration taking more stringent measures, gun ownership in America has risen over the past two years, according to a poll conducted in early June by Pew Research. In the survey, 32 percent of respondents said they owned a gun, up from 30 percent in 2021.
Seventy-two percent cited “protection” as a major reason for owning a gun, far surpassing other reasons like hunting, sports shooting, and gun collection.
Gun ownership was found to be more prevalent in rural areas compared to urban regions. While 20 percent of respondents in urban places owned a gun, 47 percent possessed firearms in rural areas.
Michael Clements contributed to the report.