Biden Admin Finalizes Controversial Rule To Expand Background Checks On Gun Sales

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Authored by Michael Clements via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

(Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has submitted the final version of a controversial rule to change the definition of what it means to be “Engaged in the Business” of dealing in firearms.

The U.S. Attorney General says the change, required by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act enacted June 25, 2022, will save lives by requiring anyone who “devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business or predominately earns a profit through the repetitive purchase and sale of firearms” to obtain a Federal Firearms License.

Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the internet at a gun show or at a brick-and-mortar store: if you sell guns predominately to earn a profit, you must be licensed, and you must conduct background checks,” Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote in a statement on the ATF website.

Critics of the change say the rule will effectively end private transactions, possibly including the inheritance of firearms within families.

According to the ATF statement, President Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14092 on March 14, 2023, which directed Mr. Garland to clarify the definition of who is engaged in the business of dealing in firearms. The plan immediately drew criticism from gun rights activists.

The ATF is using the [Bipartisan Safer Communities Act] BSCA to substantially revise all regulations governing who and what constitutes a ‘dealer’ and how such dealers may conduct business. This proposal advances a radical left-wing agenda that will undermine the Second Amendment and the Constitutional rights of all Americans,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) wrote in a Dec. 7, 2023, letter to ATF Director Steen Dettelbach.

Mr. Garland signed the new rule on April 10, and it will become effective May 10, 2024.

According to the 466-page rule, the only requirement for determining whether a person is engaged in the business of selling guns is whether the person is trading to “predominately earn a profit” rather than to earn a “livelihood.”

Critics claim that under the new rule, the transfer of a single gun between private citizens would require the seller to have an FFL and to perform a check through the National Criminal Instant Background Check System (NICS). This would effectively end all private firearm sales and could even subject parents to federal prosecution for trying to pass family heirlooms along to their children.

“Once again, the Biden Administration is weaponizing every tool in their tool box to intimidate, harass, and criminalize gun owners with unlawful executive actions. This Backdoor Universal Registration Check rule is nothing more than a move to criminalize the sale of a single gun without a background check,” Aidan Johnston, Director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America wrote in a statement to The Epoch Times.

But the new rule states that is not the case.

Individuals may continue to engage in intrastate private sales without a license, provided that such individuals are not ‘engaged in the business’ and the transactions are otherwise compliant with law,” the rule reads.

In an ATF press release, Mr. Dettlebach stated that the rule is about closing an avenue by which criminals obtain guns.

“Today’s final rule is about ensuring compliance with an important area of the existing law where we all know, the data show, and we can clearly see that a whole group of folks are openly flouting the law,” Mr. Dettlebach is quoted as saying. “That leads to not just unfair, but in this case dangerous consequences.”

But Second Amendment advocates say the new rule is the next step in the Biden Administration’s plan to implement gun control measures through administrative action that it can’t get through the legislative process.

“The government hopes to ensure that they are fully involved in every firearm transfer, and eventually the records of all those transfers will end up in their records database. Just last month ATF executed an airport executive in Arkansas during a pre-dawn raid because he was ‘engaged in the business’ without one of ATF’s licenses. This could quickly become the new normal, so liberty-loving Americans are right to be concerned,” Mr. Johnston’s statement reads.

 

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