Congressmen Demand Answers from the ATF

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posted on November 8, 2023
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Rep. Roger Williams
Gage Skidmore courtesy Flickr

Congressmen from the Committee on Small Business recently wrote to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Steve Dettelbach demanding answers over who, exactly, needs a license to sell a firearm.

Rep. Roger Williams (R-Ill.), who chairs the committee, along with Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), and Aaron Bean (R-Fla.), wrote to ask the ATF “to inquire about the … recent proposed changes to the definition of ‘engaged in the business of selling firearms.’”

“It is difficult to determine whether this rulemaking is based on the Biden administration’s disdain for the Second Amendment or its contempt for American small businesses, but it most certainly will not achieve its desired ends,” reads the letter.

This letter comes after the ATF earlier this year proposed a rule change at the behest of the Biden administration that would change the definition of “engaged in the business” of selling firearms to include anyone who seeks to earn a profit at all. This would include common conduct from law-abiding gun owners, such as when someone “advertises or posts firearms for sale, including on any website,” when a person includes the factory packaging with “like new” firearms in a sale, when a person keeps detailed records regarding their firearm sales, and more.

Previously, an individual only needed an FFL when engaged in “a course of trade or business” buying and reselling firearms with the “principal objective” of “livelihood and profit.” Last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) removed the “livelihood” element so that seeking profit alone would allegedly fulfill the apparent objective of requiring anyone who sells a firearm for more than they initially paid to obtain an FFL.

“The ATF’s new rule would force thousands of gun enthusiasts to register as Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers,” said Williams in a press release for the letter. “Criminals will simply ignore this new requirement while law-abiding citizens will be forced to submit their information to the ATF as another backdoor attempt to make a universal gun registry. This ridiculous new requirement will do nothing to improve public safety and only shows the Biden Administration’s contempt for the Second Amendment.”

With this rule, the ATF—and by extension, the Biden administration—appears to want to force just about anyone who might trade or sell a gun to a friend, family member, or someone else to either apply for a federal firearm license (FFL) or never be able to transfer or trade a firearm.

“This latest action by the Biden administration is yet another step in their campaign to attack law-abiding gun owners. The Bipartisan ‘Safer Communities’ Act’s passage is now a pretext to require government permission before exercising a constitutional right. It’s a stark reminder to legislators: give gun controllers any legislative tool, no matter how benign, and they’ll use it to shred the Second Amendment. The Biden administration will clearly use all the tools at their disposal to interfere with our freedoms while doing nothing to stop the violent criminals responsible for America’s recent crime surge,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch.

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