The whistleblower group Empower Oversight is warning that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF’s) pending rule implementing de facto universal background checks violates a law passed in the 1980s.
On August 31, 2023, Breitbart News reported the ATF published a proposed rule requiring universal background checks, the kind of checks Congress has rejected for more than 20 years.
The proposed rule redefines what is meant by being “in the business” of selling firearms, broadening the phrase to include private citizens who sell even a minute number of guns each year.
ATF director Steve Dettelbach commented on the proposed rule, saying, “This new proposed rule would clarify the circumstances in which a person is ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing in firearms, and thus required to obtain a license and follow the laws Congress has established for firearms dealers.”
On January 31, 2024, Just The News pointed to Empower Oversight’s claim that the proposed rule violates the law and is “unconstitutional.”
They claim it violates a law from 1986 wherein Congress noted that the “business” of selling guns “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.”
Empower Oversight then suggested the proposed rule also violates the Constitution: “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.’”
Empower Oversight is availing themselves of the Freedom of Information Act to gather all records related to the proposed rule, including those of communications between the Biden White House and the ATF during the time the rule was being fashioned.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio, a Turning Point USA Ambassador, and a pro-staffer for Pulsar Night Vision. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010 and holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.