The Justice Department announced Thursday it has started a process to expand the definition of a firearm dealer and make it clear that sellers at gun shows and flea markets and who sell through the mail are required to obtain specific approvals andbefore selling guns.
The Justice Department announced the submission of a proposed federal rule that will still have to undergo a public comment submission period as a part of the approval process. It’s a move the administration is making to close the so-called “gun show loophole,” and ensure that gun sales entail background checks. If approved, the proposed rule would affect how guns are sold under federal law, and expand background check requirements to cover more sellers.
Last year, Congress, which directed the Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to look at federal rule definitions for firearms. This process is the result.
“The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was passed by Congress to reduce gun violence, including by expanding the background checks that keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a written statement. “This proposed rule implements Congress’s mandate to expand the definition of who must obtain a license and conduct a background check before selling firearms.”
Justice Department officials believe background checks for firearms sales are one of the best ways to ensure guns don’t reach the wrong hands. But their proposed rule is likely to be challenged in the courts.
President Biden has urged Congress to pass universal background checks and ban assault-style weapons, things Congress was unable to do even when Democrats controlled both chambers. That’s an even tougher task now that Republicans control the House.
The Justice Department’s proposed rule, although long in the making, follows yet another week of headlines of gun violence in the U.S.
Last week, a white suspect in Jacksonville, Fla., shot three Black men to death in a Dollar General. A shooting at a Chicago White Sox game injured two.