Biden administration announces new rule expanding background checks for gun purchases - TAI News
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A customer looks at a pistol at a vendor’s display at a gun show held by Florida Gun Shows in Miami on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The White House on April 11 announced that a new federal rule has been finalized that expands background checks for gun purchases. The rule is meant to address loopholes in the existing system that have allowed people who legally shouldn’t be able to purchase guns to do so.

“To make sure fewer guns are sold without background checks, this is going to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and felons,” President Joe Biden said in a video promoting the new rule. “My administration is going to continue to do everything we possibly can to save lives.”

In a call with reporters, Vice President Kamala Harris explained: “Every year, thousands of unlicensed gun dealers sell tens of thousands of guns without a single background check, including to buyers who, if they had been required to pass a background check, would have failed — for example, domestic abusers, violent felons, and even children. This single gap in our federal background check system has caused unimaginable pain and suffering.”

As an example of the need for the new rule, the White House cited the case of a 2019 shooting rampage in Texas by a shooter who had failed a background check but was able to get a gun via a private sale. 

The new rule lays out specific requirements for qualifying as a gun dealer, including getting a federal license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and running background checks for purchases. Gun sellers will not be allowed to evade registration requirements by claiming they only sell a few guns or that the weapons they have sold are part of a personal collection.

The rule also prevents gun dealers who have lost their licenses from selling their inventory without doing a background check in a process known as the “firesale loophole,” when dealers characterize their inventory as part of a personal collection.

The 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was signed into law by Biden, gave the federal government the power to make the new rule. The legislation was the first major federal gun safety regulation to become law since the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1993.

The 2022 legislation received bipartisan support in Congress but was opposed by all of the Republicans in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, led by Sen. Ron Johnson.

“The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a classic example of Washington dysfunction. Negotiated by a ‘gang’ with no committee process and no ability to offer amendments, billions in spending with a phantom pay for, and provisions that ignore constitutional rights. As a result, I could not support it,” Johnson said in a June 2022 statement.

Johnson’s counterpart, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and the Democrats representing Wisconsin in the House backed the law.

Expanding background checks has consistently been popular in polls and is supported by Democrats, Republicans and independent voters. A May 2023 poll of American adults conducted by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University found that 86% of respondents supported requiring background checks for all purchases of firearms.

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