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On 3 Year Mark of Midland-Odessa Shooting, Everytown Urges Biden Administration to Clarify Definition of Gun Sellers “Engaged In The Business”

August 31, 2022

After Enacting the Life-Saving Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, The Administration Must Implement It Effectively and Crack Down on Gun Sales Without Background Checks

NEW YORK — Three years ago today, a mass shooter in Midland-Odessa, Texas killed seven people and wounded 25 with a firearm he purchased from an unlicensed seller after failing a background check at a licensed dealer. The man who sold the shooter the gun claimed he was not “engaged in the business” and therefore did not run background checks for the dozens of guns he sold on online marketplaces. The recently-enacted Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) provided a much needed definition to prevent sellers and online marketplaces from skirting this law: selling guns for profit means you need to be a licensed gun dealer and run background checks. 

Today, Everytown For Gun Safety is calling on the Biden-Harris Administration to fully implement BSCA with regulatory action that cracks down on no-background-check sales by clarifying the definition of a gun seller who is “engaged in the business.”

The Administration must put forward a regulation to effectively implement BSCA, cracking down on no-background-check sales by making its definition of “engaged in the business” easy for people to understand and law enforcement to enforce. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, no-background-check sales are a leading source of illegal guns, and the online marketplaces that facilitate and profit from them have grown rapidly, with more than one million ads per year on offering firearms for sale without a background check. The limited exceptions to getting a license need to clearly state that anyone who sells more than five guns per year to enhance their personal collection or sells from and then restocks their personal collection should be required to get a gun dealer license and run background checks on buyers.

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, federal law is simple: if you’re selling guns for profit, you need to run background checks on your customers, and it doesn’t matter if you’re selling those guns at a brick-and-mortar store, on the internet, or at a gun show,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We’re calling on the Biden-Harris Administration to make it crystal clear to everyone – unlicensed sellers, operators of gun shows and online sites, and law enforcement – where the line is, and to make sure that everyone engaged in the business of dealing firearms follows the law.”

“Our grassroots army fought tirelessly to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and now, the strongest gun safety administration in history must do everything in its power to implement it effectively,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Background checks are a critical tool in our fight to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and by clarifying who’s in the business of selling guns and is required to run background checks on all gun sales, the Administration can further strengthen this lifesaving system.” 

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