BY Staff WritersApril 13, 2024
1 month ago
BY 
 | April 13, 2024
1 month ago

Biden Administration Moves to Mandate Enhanced Background Checks for Private Gun Sales

In a pivotal decision, the Biden administration has announced a sweeping regulation aimed at closing a critical loophole in gun sales, significantly advancing efforts towards more robust gun control measures.

The rule mandates comprehensive background checks for gun dealers outside of traditional settings, directly responding to the gun violence epidemic and aligning with the objectives of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, as Politico reports.

For years, a significant loophole has allowed unlicensed dealers to sell firearms without conducting the background checks required of licensed retailers.

Recognizing this gap, the Biden administration, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), has introduced a rule aimed at extending the requirement for background checks to include all individuals selling guns for profit, including those at gun shows and flea markets.

This rule emanates from the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The Act mandates licensing for all profit-driven gun sellers, subjecting their transactions to the same regulatory scrutiny as traditional gun stores. This legislative action represents a concerted effort to curb the tide of gun violence sweeping across the nation by ensuring that individuals purchasing firearms undergo a thorough vetting process.

Rule Aims to Clamp Down on Unlicensed Gun Sales

The administration had been developing this rule since spring, ahead of its formal announcement. Set to be effective 30 days after its publication, it is designed to bring under regulatory oversight an estimated 20,000 individuals currently engaged in unlicensed gun dealing.

This move is expected to significantly impact tens of thousands of gun transactions each year, potentially reducing the number of firearms entering the market without proper checks.

During the announcement of the rule, Vice President Kamala Harris underscored its importance by invoking the memories of the Columbine High School and the 2019 Midland/Odessa shootings. These tragic events highlighted the deadly consequences of the existing loopholes in gun sales and the urgent need for tighter controls to prevent future occurrences.

While the rule does not establish universal background checks, it signifies a critical step forward in the ongoing battle against gun violence. It articulates the administration's resolve to enforce existing laws more effectively and prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands through unlicensed sales.

Administration's Efforts and the Path Ahead

Following an executive order by President Biden, the definition of “engaged in business” regarding gun sales was clarified, leading to the drafting of this rule. The Department of Justice then issued a proposed rule in September, laying the groundwork for tighter regulation of gun sales.

Further bolstering these efforts, the administration has made public firearms data to shine a light on the illegal firearms market. An ATF analysis linked unlicensed dealer sales to a significant channel for gun trafficking, with more than 68,000 illegally traced firearms from 2017 to 2021. ATF director Steven Dettelbach emphasized the rule's importance in ensuring compliance with existing laws, marking a stride towards safer communities.

However, not everyone agrees with the new regulation. Republican Senators John Cornyn and Thom Tillis have expressed their intention to challenge the rule. Through a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, they aim to "overturn this unconstitutional rule," a spokesperson for Cornyn indicated to POLITICO.

Harris reflected on the broader implications of the rule, stating, "This single gap in our federal background check system has caused unimaginable pain and suffering." She highlighted the vast number of communities torn apart by violence perpetrated with weapons obtained without background checks.

An anonymous administration official acknowledged the rule's limitations but maintained that it represents significant progress. “We know this doesn’t get all the way there. And this law can only do so much. And it’s why the president is firm that Congress needs to finish this job and make sure that we have background checks on all gun sales,” the official stated.

ATF director Dettelbach reiterated the critical nature of the rule, viewing it as a vital instrument for ensuring lawful compliance. “Today’s Final Rule is about ensuring compliance with an important area of the existing law where we all know, the data show, and we can see that a whole group of folks are openly flouting that law. That leads to not just unfair but, in this case, dangerous consequences,” Dettelbach said.

Conclusion: A Significant Leap Towards Safer Gun Sales

In conclusion, the Biden administration has enacted a final rule to intensify background checks on gun purchases, extending these requirements to include gun dealers operating outside traditional stores.

This effort responds to a pressing need to address a loophole that has facilitated the escalation of gun violence, particularly highlighted by tragic events such as the Uvalde, Texas school shooting.

While the rule represents a significant advancement under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, debate surrounds its implementation and reach, with further action anticipated from Congress.

This development not only underscores the administration's commitment to combating gun violence but also ignites a broader conversation on the efficacy and scope of gun control legislation in America.

Written by: Staff Writers

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