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Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action Applaud Introduction of Federal Firearm Licensee Act

December 9, 2021

Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action applauded the introduction of the Federal Firearm Licensee Act, authored by Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL). The bill would bring firearm dealer laws into the 21st century by modernizing and strengthening the federal requirements for gun shops. That includes requiring “facilitators” — third parties between gun dealers and gun buyers, such as gun shows or websites — to ensure that background checks are run on sales, increasing physical security requirements at gun shops, like video surveillance, modernizing record keeping, and requiring dealers to inform the ATF of any firearms transferred before a background check has been completed. 

“Right now, the ATF is fighting rogue gun dealers with one hand tied behind its back — which is just how the gun lobby designed it,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Rep. Kelly’s bill would give the ATF the tools it needs to take irresponsible gun dealers to task for putting profit ahead of public safety.”

“Keeping guns out of the hands of those who are prohibited from owning them isn’t only common sense, it saves lives — and that’s exactly what this bill will help do,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We’re proud to stand in strong support of Rep. Kelly’s legislation to close loopholes in the Federal Firearm Licensee system and bring these regulations into the 21st century.”

The bill would also: 

  • Require reporting of two or more rifles or shotguns purchased over five consecutive days, same as for  pistols.
  • Close the indicted dealer loophole, prohibiting licensees immediately upon being indicted for certain crimes from receiving new firearms or transferring any firearms in their business inventory to anyone other than another licensee or a law enforcement agency.
  • Require annual inspections for “high risk” gun dealers and inspections every five years for all other gun dealers. Due to existing statutory restrictions and limited resources, only a small fraction of gun sellers are inspected annually and a large number of those inspections reveal violations.
  • Require dealer-applicants and employees trusted with the possession of firearms to undergo background checks for FFL issuance and renewal. 

Bad actors in the gun industry bear a large responsibility in guns falling into dangerous hands, partially due to the fact that laws that govern how gun dealers conduct their business have not been updated since the 1960s. Higher standards for gun dealers can help stop the stream of guns into communities. In fact, intrastate gun trafficking was 64 percent lower in places with strong gun dealer regulations and oversight. The Federal Firearm Licensee Act would hold gun dealers nationwide to high standards and modernize the ways in which the federal government and the ATF can hold these dealers accountable and keep communities safe. 

Cities, with the help of Everytown Law, have been taking on gun dealers who break the rules in court as well. Earlier this year, Kansas City, Missouri, joined the state of Illinois in filing a lawsuit to force federal regulators to revoke a firearms license granted to a company whose predecessor is alleged to have  broken federal firearms law and actively contributed to gun trafficking and other criminal activity in Illinois and Kansas City. The city of Chicago is also suing Westforth Sports, a Gary, Indiana gun store alleged to have sold hundreds of illegal guns trafficked into Chicago, ignoring clear signs of straw purchases and gun trafficking.

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