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Justice Department publishes rule to close ‘gun show loophole’

The Justice Department announced Thursday it has submitted a final rule to the federal register that would close the so-called “gun show loophole,” a significant step in the Biden administration’s efforts to curb gun violence and better regulate gun sales.

The rule, which was first proposed last August, changes the definition of firearm sellers who are “engaged in business” and would therefore be required to obtain a federal firearms license to include those selling guns at gun shows, flea markets and over the internet.

“Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the internet, at a gun show, or at a brick-and-mortar store: if you sell guns predominantly to earn a profit, you must be licensed, and you must conduct background checks,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said on a call with reporters. “This regulation is a historic step in the Justice Department’s fight against gun violence. It will save lives.”

The final rule will go into effect in 30 days.

The rule change was made possible by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was passed in 2022 following an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The law expanded the definition of engaging in firearms dealing.

In March 2023, President Biden signed an executive order directing the attorney general to implement a plan to clarify the definition of who is required to obtain a federal firearms license.

Administration officials have long cited the so-called “gun show loophole” as an area in need of reform to improve the background check system and better track firearms to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

One senior administration official told reporters they estimated the rule would effect roughly 20,000 individuals who are engaged in unlicensed gun dealing, which would cover tens of thousands of gun sales each year.

The official called Thursday’s announcement part of a broader administration effort to curtail the spread of illegal guns. Biden has previously signed executive action cracking down on “ghost guns,” which can be difficult to track.

The administration has taken repeated measures to try to curb gun violence, which continues to plague the country. Biden during his presidency has traveled to Uvalde, to Maine and to Nevada to meet with community members following mass shootings, and has addressed several other shootings.

The White House in December released a list of recommended gun safety measures to be implemented at the state level. Biden also established an Office of Gun Violence Prevention last fall.

The bipartisan law passed in 2022 increased funding for mental health, provided incentives for states to implement red flag laws and gave greater funding to schools for heightened security, among other reforms.

Vice President Harris told reporters 1-in-5 Americans has a family member who was killed by gun violence.

“It does not have to be this way,” she said on a call previewing the DOJ rule. “We know how to prevent these tragedies, and it’s a false choice to suggest you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away. I am in favor of the Second Amendment, and I am in favor of reasonable gun safety laws.”

Source: The Hill

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