GOP Senators Demand ‘Immediate Withdrawal’ of DOJ’s Proposed Gun-Control Regulation
By David Zimmermann
Senator Roger Marshall (R., Kan.) and six other Republican senators submitted a letter to U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland on Thursday, voicing their “strong opposition” to a new gun-control rule proposed by the Department of Justice.
Under the recently proposed “Definition of ‘Engaged in the Business’ as a Dealer in Firearms,” any person who sells a gun for profit to anyone else, including family members, would be considered “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms. As a result, a person would be required under federal law to obtain a federal permit, conduct a background check, and complete gun registration paperwork.
Senators John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Rick Scott (R., Fla.), Steve Daines (R., Mont.), Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.), Eric Schmitt (R., Mo.), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R., Miss.) joined Kansas’s Marshall in urging the “immediate withdrawal” of the DOJ’s rule, which would amend current Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulations.
“This latest action by the Biden administration is yet another step in their campaign to attack law-abiding gun owners,” the group of U.S. senators wrote to U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland, who signed ATF’s notice of the proposed rule on August 30.
Marshall and his colleagues further warn the rule will “circumvent the U.S. Congress” by working around passed and signed gun-control legislation with “administrative action,” according to the letter.
“The administration has stated its intent to ‘move the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation.’ But Congress has not authorized universal background checks, and the administration does not have the authority to impose this policy unilaterally,” the letter read.
It added the federal government should not infringe upon citizens’ Second Amendment rights while there’s no provision for the rule’s application in court against criminals.
“Meanwhile, the criminals who Congress intended to hold accountable will be unaffected, as the proposal — incredibly — disclaims any intent to have these presumptions apply in criminal proceedings,” the letter read. “This is all but an admission on ATF’s part that the presumptions are overbroad and unenforceable before a court of law.”
The ATF proposal expands upon the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act’s modified definition of “engaged in the business” of selling guns, which means anyone can be classified as a firearms dealer if they have the “intent to predominantly earn a profit.” President Joe Biden enacted the gun-control legislation in June 2022 to crack down on gun violence in the U.S.
The senators argued that the proposal misinterprets the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act’s language in order to place firearm purchases under the ATF’s purview. Notably, the rule ignores the legislation’s exemption for a person who occasionally engages in firearm transactions from being labeled a firearms dealer.
“Make no mistake — Congress has not authorized the creation of a universal background check system, but that isn’t stopping anti-Second Amendment ATF bureaucrats from trying to create that power for themselves. Not on my watch,” Marshall told National Review in an emailed statement.
“These radical gun control activists are desperate to strip law-abiding gun owners of their rights. Democrats are weaponizing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and purposefully misinterpreting the bill’s language to desperately push their anti-gun agenda. Our Second Amendment rights are under attack,” he added. “The Biden Administration has openly admitted they plan to implement as much gun control as possible without congressional authorization, and with the New Mexico Governor’s recent ban on guns in Albuquerque, it has never been more urgent that we stand up for law-abiding gun owners and protect our Second Amendment rights.”