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ATF Preparing Rule To Regulate Private Gun Sales, Requiring Background Check

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is preparing to issue a new rule that would regulate private gun sales and require a background check via the FBI, according to a whistleblower group that represented IRS agents in the Hunter Biden case.

The group, Empower Oversight, said in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland that the move would amount to an “unconstitutional” power grab. Additionally, the group claimed that two sources had alerted it to the impending rule.

The letter said that the ATF was directed by the White House to make the change and “has drafted a 1,300-page document in support of a rule that would effectively ban private sales of firearms from one citizen to another by requiring background checks for every sale,” Just the News reported.

Empower Oversight asserted that it believes only Congress possesses the authority to enact such a modification due to a 1986 law that expressly prohibited background checks for firearm sales between private individuals.

“Such an expansive rule that treats all private citizens the same as federal firearms licensees would circumvent the separation of powers in the Constitution, which grants ‘all legislative Powers’ to Congress while requiring that the President ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,'” the letter said.

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“To the extent such a rule prevents the private sale of firearms, it would also clearly violate the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which declares that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,’” it added.

Empower Oversight pointed out that the rule could potentially result in confrontations between ATF agents and private citizens, citing two violent incidents from the 1990s that originated from federal raids as examples.

“The lessons of the Ruby Ridge and Waco standoffs should make clear that attempting to enforce such an expansive regulation could endanger countless ATF field agents who are forced to serve as the face of the Biden Administration in going after private firearms owners for constitutionally-protected firearms sales,” the letter noted.

In March, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring the federal government to “clarify the definition of who is engaged in the business of dealing in firearms, and thus required to become Federal firearms licensees in order to increase compliance with the Federal background check requirement for firearm sales.”

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He admitted at the time his goal was to “move us as close as we can to universal background checks.”

Subsequently, the ATF submitted a proposed rule that raised concerns among Second Amendment advocates. It led to worries that the administration was attempting to mandate that any private individual selling even a single firearm online must register as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL).

Empower Oversight noted that the law Congress passed in 1986 and signed by then-President Ronald Reagan made clear that the “business” of selling firearms “shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.”

Meanwhile, sales of firearms have hit a new record during Biden’s term as more Americans grow concerned about rising violent crime and the threat of terrorism following the October attack on Israel by Hamas that killed nearly 1,400 people.

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With crime seemingly worsening in Democrat-run cities and millions of encounters with illegal immigrants — many from terrorism-sponsoring countries — over the course of the past year, gun sales soared past 14 million, with record sales in November, the Washington Examiner reported.

The outlet noted: The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the industry representative that adjusts FBI background check data to estimate gun sales, said that there were 1,595,476 sales last month. The group said earlier that there were 214,913 guns sold on Black Friday alone, a new high for the day known for Christmas sales and buying. For the year, the group estimates sales at 14,072,224.

“This bucks the narrative by some that the firearm market is saturated,” NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva said, per the outlet.

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