Blog 4/19/24

Weekly Spotlight 4/19/24 – 4/25/24

New ATF Rule is Blatant Federal Overreach Against Gun Owners and Sellers

Last week, President Biden and his politicized Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) announced a new rule to require background checks on the private sale of firearms.  Set to take effect in the next 30 days, the new rule redefines the criteria for being “engaged in the business of selling guns,” and is aimed at stopping the sale of used firearms to turn a profit.  The rule’s ambiguous language opens the door for potential injustices that could trap law-abiding Americans under spurious legal action. 

Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders are already required by law to conduct background checks on all gun sales.  Under the guise of addressing the so-called “gun show loophole,” the ATF’s new rule would require a broad swath of law-abiding, private gun sellers to also conduct background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  Under normal circumstances, such a change would require congressional action, but leaders on Capitol Hill have refused to implement this type of rule.  That has not stopped Biden’s ATF from plowing ahead with this change via executive fiat. 

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is among a number of lawmakers who have made clear federal law does not permit this type of overreach by the White House.  In a statement to The Reload, the Senator’s office said, “The Biden admin should expect for this rule to be struck down because it is unconstitutional.”  The lack of alignment between the ATF and one of the bill’s top negotiators highlights just how out of step the rule is with the law.  It should signal to all law-abiding Americans that the Biden Administration does not seem to care whether it exceeds its constitutional authority.  

Ultimately, requiring background checks for the private sale of firearms would require an act of Congress to implement.  It’s likely that this ATF rule will be struck down in federal court, but until that happens, it leaves millions of law-abiding citizens uncertain about whether they’re violating the law or not.  That is not the proper way to govern, nor does it help address the root causes of violent crime.  

See what the USCCA-FSL Action Fund is advocating for on Capitol Hill


The ATF is set to publish a new rule expanding who needs to obtain a federal license before selling firearms on the secondhand market. On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced the agency submitted its proposed gun dealer licensing rule for publication. The rule formalizes a series of factors the ATF has long contended determine when somebody selling used guns must get a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and adds a few new ones. The President said the changes were designed to force more gun sellers to conduct FBI background checks. 

Maine has the Second Amendment in its crosshairs as the state Legislature is set to pass bills impacting the rights of gun-owning residents. The Democratic-controlled House followed the Senate on Monday in approving the governor’s omnibus gun safety bill that strengthens the state’s yellow flag law, boosts background checks for private sales of guns and makes it a crime to recklessly sell a gun to a prohibited person. The House will also consider two separate bills approved by the Senate that lengthen waiting periods for gun purchases and a ban on bump stocks. The series of gun safety bills were introduced after a shooting spree at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston left 18 victims dead and injured more than a dozen others.

A mass shooting late Sunday in New Orleans killed a woman, injured 11 people and left the city reeling with questions about safety and gun control. The big picture: Scant details were available Monday about the shooting outside Republic NOLA, including the condition of the hospitalized victims. Authorities also haven’t speculated about a possible motive or a description of a shooter or shooters.

Two state courts in the Pacific Northwest gave gun-rights advocates some good news in challenges against magazine capacity restrictions this week. But is that sustainable? On Friday, the Oregon Court of Appeals denied a request by the state’s attorney general to stay a lower court ruling declaring the state’s voter-approved ban on “large-capacity” magazines and permit requirement to purchase a firearm unconstitutional. It did so after finding that the gun-rights groups who challenged Measure 114 have “a legitimate likelihood of success on the merits” in the appeals process and that preventing the state from enforcing the measure merely preserves the status quo.