Friday, September 1, 2023

Biden's Suggested Regulation Could End Private Firearm Sales

President Joe Biden and the U.S. Department of Justice have put forth a rule modification that would alter the requirements for obtaining a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Advocacy groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, and Brady United laud the rule as an essential step in closing perceived gaps, like the "gun show loophole" and online sales, which they argue undermine universal background checks. 

This modification stems from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a law previously endorsed by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX). The act revised the federal definition of a firearms dealer by altering the legal wording, making it easier for the government to enforce licensing. While some Republicans at the time dismissed concerns over how the altered language might be exploited, the Biden Administration is now using this change for the proposed rule. 

Under the new rule, people who sell multiple items from a specific category of firearms or who wish to liquidate a collection will require an FFL. This is particularly relevant for collectors and could prevent them from legally transferring firearms without an FFL. Furthermore, the proposed rule would necessitate an FFL for sellers who utilize "online auctions," focusing attention on websites like Armslist that serve as online marketplaces for firearms but don't directly sell them.

The impact on private sales could be significant, particularly at gun shows. Anyone renting a table there would be presumed to be in the business of selling firearms, thus requiring an FFL. This could effectively halt most private sales. Meanwhile, the rule proposes strict guidelines that suggest a seller is in the "business of selling firearms," potentially making it more challenging for individuals to sell firearms privately. The increased regulatory scrutiny could also discourage people from applying for an FFL due to the high level of record-keeping and the risk of unannounced inspections.

Critics point out that most firearms used in crimes are obtained illegally, often through theft, rather than through legal channels. Therefore, they argue that the rule may not effectively prevent criminals from acquiring firearms but could inhibit legal sales and transfers among law-abiding citizens. The proposal does include an exemption for family gifts, which constitute a minor portion of overall firearms transfers. Once the rule is published, there will be a 90-day public comment period before any final rule is issued.


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