Biden Admin to Issue Rule to Close Nonexistent ‘Gun Show Loophole,’ Expand Background Checks

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that it would submit a rule directly to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to close the “gun show loophole” and expand background checks

The final rule, expected to be submitted Thursday to the Federal Register by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, would eliminate a loophole that has allowed sales of guns without background checks of guns outside of brick-and-mortar stores. 
The rule was issued under a provision of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. It requires that anyone who sells guns for profit to have a license and that buyers be subject to a background check, including at firearms shows and flea markets. The administration had been working on the rule since last spring. Once publicized, it will take effect in 30 days. 
The so-called gun show loophole has for years allowed unlicensed gun dealers to sell firearms without background checks at gun shows, on the internet and out of their homes.

The 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, in Title II, “Firearms,” states:

This title makes various changes to federal firearms laws, including to expand background check requirements for persons who are under 21 years of age, to establish new criminal offenses for straw purchasing of firearms and trafficking in firearms, and to extend federal firearms-related restrictions to individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors against dating partners.

This appears to authorize an expansion of background checks only for prospective buyers aged 18 to 21. The announcement of the Biden administration’s new rule proposal does not mention this age requirement.

Further, on the definition of “gun dealer,” the Act defines a “dealer”:

This section revises the definition of engaged in the business as applicable to a firearms dealer who is required to be federally licensed. Specifically, it provides that a person who sells firearms to predominantly earn a profit (currently, who sells firearms with the principal objective of livelihood and profit) is engaged in the business of dealing in firearms and is therefore required to be federally licensed.

There are other changes to the enforcement of laws against straw purchases and so on, but there is no mention in the Act of any requirement for background checks for sales between private parties.

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The reason for this is likely because there is no such thing as a gun show loophole. The term itself is a canard invented by gun control advocates. Every sale at a gun show has to follow every law regarding firearms sales for the jurisdiction within which the show takes place. In Colorado, where the state requires a background check for a sale between private parties, gun shows have personnel on-site to carry out those checks, and the checks are required for any transaction at the show. Here in Alaska, the state makes no such requirement, and so private transactions do not require a background check–at a gun show or anywhere else.

Here’s the thing: A 2022 report indicated that 42 percent of rejected firearms background checks were denied due to prior felony convictions. The report also indicated that in 2017, 12 of 12,000 people denied a gun purchase were prosecuted. It is a federal felony for a prohibited person, like a convicted felon, to attempt to purchase a firearm – and yet, in the most recent year for which data is available, the federal government prosecuted 0.1% of the attempts. That’s a bad joke.

In this, as in so many things, the Biden administration is indulging in a useless, ineffective virtue signal. This law and this rule will have no visible effect on crime; this gives gun-control advocates license to call for still more intrusive measures.

The only question is whether that’s a feature or a bug.

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