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New rule to close ‘gun show loophole’ finalized by Biden administration

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by Ariana Figueroa, Wisconsin Examiner
April 11, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Thursday finalized a new rule that would require anyone selling a gun to obtain a federal license and conduct background checks.

The rule aims to close what’s known as the “gun show loophole.” Gun merchants who sell online, by mail or at flea markets and gun shows until now have not been subject to the same federal regulations as those who own and operate gun stores as their main source of income.

“This single gap in our federal background check system has caused unimaginable pain and suffering,” Vice President Kamala Harris, who oversees the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, said on a call with reporters Wednesday previewing the regulation.

The new rule by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, stems from requirements of the bipartisan gun safety legislation package Congress passed in 2022. 

It’s likely to face legal challenges, but a senior White House official told  reporters on the call that the Biden administration is confident the rule will survive any legal disputes.

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

The 2022 law would require those gun sellers to obtain a Federal Firearm License, record gun purchases and conduct background checks, which are the same requirements as brick-and-mortar gun shops.

Prior to the rule, if someone claimed that selling guns was not a main source of income, they were not required to obtain a license or perform a background check.

There are 80,000 individuals who have a Federal Firearm License, a senior Department of Justice official on the call said. Under the new rule, there would be about 20,000 additional individuals who would be required to obtain a license and “that has the potential to impact tens and tens of thousands of gun sales,” the official said.

“This is part of a broader administration effort, where the president has focused our attention, resources and strategy at the source of illegal guns,” the senior Department of Justice official said. “All of this is intended to get beyond the individual who has committed a crime and look to the source of those illegal guns.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland said on the call that the new rule is one of the “most significant gun regulations in decades.”

“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,” Garland said. “If you sell guns predominantly to earn a profit, you must be licensed and you must conduct background checks.”

ATF Director Steven Dettelbach said that “repeatedly selling guns for profit without running a criminal background check is not safe for innocent, abiding Americans, in fact, it’s doggone dangerous.”

Dettelbach added that there are some exemptions to the rule for hobbyists, antique gun collectors and occasional family transfers.

“(The rule) provides … clarity to make sure that true hobbyists and true collectors can enhance or liquidate their professional and personal collection without fear of violating the law,” Dettelbach said.

The new rule will go into effect 30 days after being published in the Federal Register.

This story is republished from Wisconsin Examiner under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.