A bunch of Democrats in Congress are urging Biden’s ATF to close the so-called “gun seller background check loophole.” Basically, they want to force more private sellers to become licensed dealers.
Not only will that mean more revenue for Uncle Sugar, but it will have a chilling effect on gun sales and transfers between citizens.
About 90 wrote a bicameral letter this week calling for the agency “to implement federal rules to designate who is ‘engaged in the business’ of selling firearms.”
A Little Background on This Topic
Long-standing federal law allows private sellers, those who are not “engaged in the business” of selling firearms, to transfer firearms to private buyers without a background check.
For example, if you’re selling a firearm to your neighbor or hunting buddy, you don’t need to run a check.
For good reason.
To have to run out to a gun store and pay the shop the background check fee is totally unnecessary. It’s a complete time suck and a waste of your hard-earned money. Not to mention a way to chill your 2A rights.
It goes without saying but the government doesn’t need to be involved when two law-abiding citizens exercise their fundamental rights.
Things change of course when one is knowingly selling a firearm to a prohibited person, such as a felon. Those who knowingly sell guns to prohibited persons are by definition criminals, as they are violating existing federal law.
So, in essence, there is no “loophole.” There are good guys who follow the law and bad guys who don’t.
When responsible citizens engage in lawful behavior, there is no need for government intervention. When criminals break the law, they should be arrested and prosecuted. It’s pretty straightforward.
But Democrats are obsessed with criminalizing private transfers, what they call, “universal background checks.”
They want the government involved in every single, lawful firearm transfer. Period. Note, it’s only the lawful transfers that would be affected by a change in the law.
Criminals, as mentioned, will continue to go about their business unchecked.
The Letter on Gun Seller Background Check Loophole
Because Democrats have failed to criminalize private transfers nationwide, they want the government to expand the definition of “engaged in the business” so more individuals are slapped with that designation and are forced to become licensed.
In the letter, the lawmakers referenced the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which Biden signed into law last June. The BSCA paved the way for ATF to tinker with the existing law.
“Today, we write to highlight one directive in particular: the President’s clarion call to clarify the definition of who is ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing in firearms—a step that moves us closer to closing the background check loophole,” they wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland and ATF Director Steve Dettelbach.
Specifically, they want ATF to “issue guidance and complete a rulemaking that makes clear who is ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing in firearms under BSCA.”
“We also believe that this guidance and rulemaking should include a presumption that individuals making commercial sales—whether at a gun show or an online marketplace—are ‘engaged in the business’ and required to become licensed,” they wrote.
“In addition, we urge the Department and ATF to further define the ‘occasional sales,’ ‘personal collection,’ and ‘hobby’ exceptions to the ‘engaged in the business’ rule. These exceptions should now be read pursuant to how BSCA narrowed the definition.”
Response from the National Shooting Sports Foundation
“These antigun lawmakers are finding creative ways to twist definitions to force universal background checks, which is expressly forbidden by federal law,” said Mark Oliva, NSSF’s managing director of public affairs in an email to GunsAmerica.
“Their goal is to have every firearm owner entered into a national database, even when that transfer is between family members. Congress recently passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act which redefined what it means to be ‘in the business.’ One needs only to look at the voting record to see that these lawmakers voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that set the new definition, only to turn around now and claim that there is no clear definition of ‘in the business,’” Oliva continued.
“That new definition essentially means an individual is considered ‘in the business’ if they sell firearms with the intention of earning a profit. These lawmakers are attempting to eliminate private transfers altogether,” he concluded.
ATF’s Track Record with New Rulemaking
ATF does not have the best track record of creating new rules regulating the firearms industry.
Between bump stocks, unfinished frames and receivers, and pistol stabilizing braces, the agency has been sued time and time again in court because it’s been accused of abusing its authority.
To that end, it is important to remember that the ATF is a regulatory agency, not a legislative body.
Its role is not to create new laws but to enforce existing ones. Weaponizing the ATF to push a political agenda will undoubtedly result in more legal battles which means more wasted taxpayer dollars.
If Democrats truly want to change the law as it relates to gun sellers, they should focus on garnering the necessary support in the House and Senate instead of taking a backdoor approach that will ultimately be both costly and counterproductive.
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is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.