ATF’s New Rule Redefining ‘Gun Dealer’ Draws Backlash From Second Amendment Advocates

The Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has come under fire for its recent unilateral change to the definition of a “gun dealer.”
The new rule, which significantly expands the scope of who must register as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) has been met with strong opposition from gun rights advocates who argue that it infringes upon Second Amendment rights and could criminalize law-abiding citizens.

At the heart of the controversy is the ATF’s interpretation of what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. This term has been ambiguous since the 1930s leading to uncertainty about how many gun sales constitute engaging in the business and requiring an FFL.

The new rule removes the previous requirement that a person must be engaged in sales for “livelihood and profit” focusing instead solely on profit. This change drastically broadens the definition of a gun dealer potentially encompassing individuals who sell even a single firearm.

“The ATF’s new rule is a clear overreach of their authority” said Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation. “They are attempting to rewrite statutory terms and create new crimes that Congress never intended. This is a blatant attack on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.”

Under the new rule selling a firearm that is still in its original packaging could be interpreted as engaging in the business and making a profit. Violations of the rule are considered a felony carrying steep penalties.

The very real issue presented by the ATF’s actions here revolve around the fact that the average citizen is not a lawyer. And with so many laws and regulations on the books, it’s impossible for a citizen to remain up to date with constantly evolving federal regulations that ebb and flow with the dictates of unelected agencies instead of being consistently guided by the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

U.S. citizens with no intentions of committing a crime will all but certainly find themselves in violation of this law, and a federal judge will likely not accept “I didn’t know” as a valid excuse.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights groups have warned that this change could turn countless law-abiding citizens into criminals simply for exercising their constitutional rights.

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