Justice Department Announces New Rule to Close “Gun Show Loophole”

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The Justice Department announced a new rule on Apr. 11, 2024, that will require everyone who is “engaged in the business” of selling guns to obtain a license to do so and to run background checks on the buyers. The rule is expected to impact about 23,000 unlicensed dealers and closes the “gun show loophole,” which allowed people to sell guns at shows and online marketplaces without licenses or performing background checks on buyers.

“This is going to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and felons. And my administration is going to continue to do everything we possibly can to save lives. Congress needs to finish the job and pass universal background checks legislation now,” says President Joe Biden

Attorney General Merrick Garland says, “Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the Internet, at a gun show, or at a brick-and-mortar store: if you sell guns predominantly to earn a profit, you must be licensed, and you must conduct background checks.”

The rule is expected to be challenged in court and Congress. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) says, “For years, the Biden administration has cracked down on law-abiding gun dealers to advance its gun-grabbing agenda, even preventing small businesses from making a living. Rather than helping dealers comply with the law, Biden’s ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] has created more hurdles to legally sell guns, so it can turn around and revoke licenses for inconsequential, so-called ‘violations.’ While Joe Biden’s ATF has avoided critical oversight on its FFL [federal firearms license] abuse for over a year, I am proud to stand up for law-abiding Iowa gun dealers.”

The new rule goes into effect on May 19, 2024, 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register on Apr. 19, 2024

1. Should the federal government require everyone who is “engaged in the business” of selling guns to be licensed and perform background checks? Why or why not?

2. Should federal and state governments enact more gun control laws? Why or why not?

3. Do background checks and other gun control laws infringe on Second Amendment rights? Explain your answer.

Anders Hagstrom, “Biden Moves to Require More Gun Sellers to Run Background Checks,” foxnews.com, Apr. 11, 2024

Office of Public Affairs U.S. Department of Justice, “Justice Department Publishes New Rule to Update Definition of “Engaged in the Business” as a Firearms Dealer,” justice.gov, Apr. 10, 2024

Alanna Durkin Richer and Colleen Long, “The Biden Administration Announces Rule That Will Require More Background Checks on Gun Buyers,” pbs.org, Apr. 11, 2024

Deepa Shivaram, “Here’s the New Plan to Boost Background Checks for Guns Bought at Shows or Online,” npr.org, Apr. 11, 2024

White House, “Fact Sheet: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces New Action to Implement Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Expanding Firearm Background Checks to Fight Gun Crime,” whitehouse.gov, Apr. 11, 2024