GOP AGs Urge ATF to Kill Gun Dealer Rule

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(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

By now, most of you are familiar with what’s going on at the ATF regarding how they intend to view the sale of firearms.

Basically, it’s going to make it so pretty much everyone has to be a licensed dealer or sell through a licensed dealer, thus creating a de facto universal background check rule. It’s a cluster…flop, to say the least.

Obviously, this is going to go to court if they enact it, but there’s still a chance they won’t. That chance is so infinitesimal that it there’s a better chance of Shannon Watts becoming pro-gun, but it’s there.

And a number of Republican AGs are asking the ATF to reconsider doing it.

A coalition of Republican attorneys general and lawmakers from 27 states urged the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to strike its proposed gun-control rule, calling it an “arbitrary and capricious” violation of the Second Amendment.

Under the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled “Definition of ‘Engaged in the Business’ as a Dealer in Firearms,” which was signed by U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland on August 30, 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 private seller would be required under federal law to obtain a federal permit, conduct a background check, and complete gun registration paperwork before a transaction.

In a letter dated Thursday, Republican attorneys general Kris Kobach (Kan.), Brenna Bird (Iowa), and Austin Knudsen (Mont.) led the demand for immediate withdrawal of the ATF’s unconstitutional regulation, arguing that “the sale of firearms among individuals for profit is protected by the Second Amendment.”

“Although longstanding regulations of large commercial enterprises that sell firearms might be consistent with the Second Amendment,” as the Supreme Court decided in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, “that is not what this proposed rule does,” the letter read. “This proposed rule seeks to require a license of every individual who sells a firearm for anything the Department sees as a profit to include currency, exchange of another firearm, or a service.”

The attorneys general added that the ATF’s notice doesn’t explicitly reference the Second Amendment in the proposed rule; therefore, according to the letter, the federal agency had no intention “to comply with the Constitution” nor abide by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on gun regulation.

Obviously, they’re not wrong here. Not in the least.

What’s especially troubling is that this would create a form of gun registration simply because pretty much every firearm would have to be sold through a licensed dealer. Sure, it says it’s about making a profit, but unless you actively sought to sell a firearm at a loss, this rule could probably find a way you profited.

And even then, I wouldn’t put it past them to figure you profited anyway.

So this will essentially push all lawful gun trade through FFL holders, which creates a paper trail of lawful gun transactions.

At least in theory.

In reality, this rule is probably unenforceable without the ATF having a lot more information than they currently do. They have to know not just what guns we own but how much we paid for them, as well as how much we sold them for.

Even so, a lot of people will be worried enough that they’ll do as they’re told to avoid finding out that it is, in fact, enforceable.

Which means gun owners need to consider their options. One such option would be for every gun owner in America to file paperwork to be an FFL. If the requirement to buy and sell firearms is for them to go through an FFL holder, then bury the ATF in applications for an FFL. A good 20 to 30 million of them, if not legions more, ought to bog the system down a good bit.

A nice bit of civil disobedience, I’d imagine, and one that could also allow a lot of people to start ordering guns off the internet and having them sent to their house for a change. That’s hardly the worst upside I can imagine.

Regardless, the best case scenario is for the ATF to abandon this horribly misguided and unconstitutional rule. I just don’t see it happening.

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