US DOJ expands firearms background check requirements for gun dealers News
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US DOJ expands firearms background check requirements for gun dealers

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a plan Thursday to expand background check requirements for gun dealers. The goal of the plan is to close loopholes for gun shows and online sales while simultaneously expanding the definition for firearm dealers required to be licensed.

The rules, which fulfill provisions in the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), expand the definition of when a person is “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. They also change accompanying regulatory definitions that would include any individual who deals firearms to “predominantly earn a profit.” Gun dealers that had not been required to seek federal licensing will now have to conform to regulations that would also require them to conduct background checks on prospective firearm purchasers. The rules stop short of creating universal background checks and contain carveouts  for private sales between family members and “the liquidation of a personal collection without restocking.”

The BSCA, which is what the new rules are derived from, also strengthened the background check review process by including a review of mental health records for juveniles. The legislation also prohibits people with domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing a weapon for a minimum of five years after a conviction.

The White House released a press statement on Thursday that touted the new regulations for closing loopholes that allowed dangerous individuals to evade background checks when purchasing a firearm. In the statement the White House specifically noted the 1999 Columbine school shooting as well as 2012 and 2019 shootings in Wisconsin and Texas, respectively. In each of these shootings, the shooters obtained weapons through unlicensed sellers without background checks that would now flag the sales as impermissible.

Vice-President Kamala Harris asserted in the statement that the background check system was the best tool for keeping weapons out of the hands of “domestic abusers and other violent criminals” before praising the Biden administration for succeeding where previous efforts had failed.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) promised to fight the new rules, with a spokesperson calling them “lawless and unconstitutional.” Cornyn accused the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) of rewriting the legislation it purported to implement and violating the separation of powers. He also insisted that any further expansion of background checks would be need to go through Congress.