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New Biden administration rule aims to end gun show 'loophole'

The new rule would require people who sell guns online or at gun shows to become licensed and perform background checks.
New Biden administration rule aims to end gun show 'loophole'
Posted at 7:38 AM, Apr 11, 2024

The Biden administration announced Thursday morning that the Department of Justice has finalized a new rule that requires many gun sellers offering firearms at gun shows or online to obtain a license and conduct background checks. 

The new rule is set to be enforceable in 30 days. 

Current rules require licensed gun dealers to perform criminal background checks on purchasers, but private sales have long been exempted. The new rule intends to require those who sell guns to earn a profit to obtain a license and register.

The White House said that if a person is repetitively selling guns of the same or similar make and model within one year of their purchase, they are supposed to become a licensed dealer. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be tasked with enforcing the new rule.

The Biden administration said the rule closes the gun show "loophole."

"If you are conducting business that in a brick-and-mortar store would require you to become a licensed dealer, you have to become a licensed dealer and run background checks," the White House said. "It does not matter whether you are dealing firearms at a gun show, online, in your home, in the trunk of a car, at a flea market, or anywhere else — you must obtain a license and run background checks results. Evidence that a person placed ads online or reserved a table at a gun show shows that the person is intending to profit from the sale."

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The Biden administration estimates that there are 20,000 unlicensed dealers who would be affected by the new rule. Officials cited an Everytown for Gun Safety study that claimed that about 1 in 9 prospective gun show and online buyers would fail a background check.

“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,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “This regulation is a historic step in the Justice Department’s fight against gun violence. It will save lives.”

It is unclear what, if any, legal challenges the new rule may face. The National Rifle Association has not yet issued a reaction to the White House's announcement, but has opposed similar efforts in the past. 

"NRA opposes expansion of the background check system, because criminals easily get guns by other means and because expanding the background check requirement would be a step toward transforming the background check system into a national gun registry," the NRA said. 

Everytown for Gun Safety says 21 states already have laws that require background checks on all gun show purchases. 

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