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Everytown, Moms Demand Action Applaud ATF for Finalizing Rule Cracking Down on Unlicensed Gun Dealers

April 11, 2024

Rule Defines Who is “Engaged in the Business” of Selling Firearms, Expands Background Checks on Gun Sales 

WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) finalized a new rule implementing the historic Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) that Congress passed and President Biden signed into law in 2022. This final rule will require unlicensed gun sellers to become licensed firearms dealers and, in turn, run background checks on their customers. In response, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements:

“The law is now clear: If you’re selling firearms at a gun show or online, you are presumed to be engaged in the business of dealing guns and must obtain a license and run background checks on all customers,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “This game-changing rule will thwart criminals, save lives, and serve as a testament to the Biden-Harris Administration’s steadfast commitment to keeping communities safe from gun violence.”

“Expanding background checks and closing the gun seller loophole is a massive victory for safer communities — and it was made possible thanks to the tireless advocacy of our grassroots movement,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “We’re grateful to the Biden-Harris Administration for continuing to do everything in its power to keep our communities safe from gun violence.”

“When guns are the number one killer of my generation, it’s actions like this that can make the difference between life and death,” said Jayden Speed, a member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board. “Strengthening our background check system is a massive step towards ensuring the next generation of students won’t have to grow up living in constant fear of gun violence like we have.” 

For years, unlicensed gun sellers have been able to exploit loopholes to avoid conducting background checks on guns sold to customers, including online and at gun shows. In 2022, with the landmark BSCA, Congress gave the Biden-Harris Administration the tools to help close these loopholes by revising the statutory definition for “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms.

Among other things, ATF’s new rule implements the changes that Congress made on a bipartisan basis in BSCA to make it clear which unlicensed gun sellers — including those who sell guns online or at gun shows — are “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms and need to become licensed dealers and run background checks. This rule will help law enforcement combat the commercial marketplaces that are often the source of firearms for felons, domestic abusers and gun traffickers who seek out unlicensed sellers to avoid background checks. 

In February, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which slashed nearly $50 million from ATF’s budget for Fiscal Year 2024, undermining the nation’s leading law enforcement agency when it comes to protecting the public from gun violence and solving gun crimes. As they begin to consider funding levels for Fiscal Year 2025, Congress should heed President Biden’s $2 billion funding request to ensure that this final rule will be fully implemented and enforced.

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