Biden admin plans to close ‘gun show loophole’

The Biden administration said on Thursday that it is addressing what is commonly referred to as the “gun show loophole,” by narrowing the definition of what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has recently adopted a change in the federal register language that was previously more specific about who was selling weapons, in compliance with the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was passed in 2022.

The administration released the proposed regulation in September 2023, after receiving more than 300,000 public comments.

Biden admin plans to close 'gun show loophole'

Prior to the enactment of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, people “engaged in the business” of guns dealers were required to register in order to become federally registered firearm dealers, according to previous terminology. According to the White House, the definition that the ATF will implement on Thursday is more explicit in order to better regulate the market under the new federal law.

The rule now explicitly lists the types of commercial activities that indicate whether a person should become a federally licensed dealer and thus be required to run a background check; prevents people from evading the licensing and background check requirements by claiming that they are just selling a few guns, according to the White House; and prevents people from falsely claiming that guns are part of a personal collection and exempt a seller from running a background check.

On a call with reporters, Administration officials stated that by making the definition more clear and exact, more people would be required to register for a federal selling license and do a background check on the person they are selling to.

President Joe Biden stated in a statement that he has spent time with people who have lost loved ones to gun violence and that he is taking steps to ensure that fewer guns are sold without a background check.

Biden admin plans to close 'gun show loophole'

“This will keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and felons. “And my administration will continue to do everything it can to save lives,” he declared. “Congress needs to finish the job and pass universal background checks legislation now.”

The final rule was approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“It will also close the gun show loophole and it closes the fire sale loophole as well by clarifying how firearms dealers who go out of business or lose their license must go about liquidating their inventory,” Garland said in a telephone interview. “Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the internet, at a gun show or in a brick and mortar store, if you sell guns [you] must conduct background checks.”

There are more than 80,000 licensed gun dealers in America. According to the White House, the Department of Justice believes that more than 20,000 unlicensed merchants sell firearms through online advertisements, gun shows, and other means.

A senior administration official told ABC News that they are convinced the steps are legal and will withstand any judicial challenges.

Biden admin plans to close 'gun show loophole'

“Strong regulations like this one are not in conflict with the Second Amendment,” the senior official stated.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who helped negotiate the bill, said he and Senator Tom Tillis intend to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn what a spokesperson for Cornyn called an “unconstitutional rule,” and that others Senate Republicans have already signed on in support.

“The administration is acting unlawfully here, and the vast majority of this rule has nothing to do with the BSCA.” Of course, this rule has been on the administration’s wish list for many years, despite Congress’s repeated rejection of these measures,” a Cornyn official stated.

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