Durbin, Kelly Lead Congressional Support for ATF Rule to Expand Background Checks

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) led letters signed by more than 160 Members of Congress in support of a proposed rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) titled "Definition of 'Engaged in the Business' as a Dealer in Firearms."  This proposal utilizes provisions in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), passed in 2022 and signed into law by President Biden, to expand background check requirements for gun sellers not previously classified as a Federal firearm licensee (FFL).

The proposed rule will expand the definition of "engaged in the business" of dealing firearms to anyone who sells firearms to earn a profit, requiring them to register as an FFL and perform background checks.  By doing so, this rule will close potential loopholes that allow individuals to avoid background checks. The initiative aligns with the overarching goal of the BSCA, to prevent gun violence and create safer communities.

“Too many families have mourned the loss of a loved one – children, parents, friends – because of the rampant gun violence in this country.  We must implement further gun violence prevention measures, including ensuring that everyone who purchases a gun passes a background check.  Under existing law, certain gun sellers can evade the requirement to perform background checks, potentially allowing firearms to fall into the wrong hands,” said Durbin.  “I’m joining my colleagues in support of ATF’s proposed rule to close that loophole and require gun dealers to do their due diligence and conduct background checks on their buyers.”

"The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was a historic step forward to prevent gun violence and make our communities safer for everyone.  The proposed ATF rule to clarify and strengthen background check requirements honors the spirit of the BSCA and will help prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands," said Kelly.  “I am proud to lead my colleagues in support of the rule and reflect our unwavering commitment to public safety. I will continue to support robust efforts to strengthen gun violence prevention laws and invest in communities.”

 “America’s current background check system is riddled with loopholes, to the point where it’s like having two security lines at the airport—one where people are required to be screened, and one where people can stroll through carrying whatever guns they want.  You can guess which line the criminals prefer.  Closing the online and gun show loopholes will keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people and save lives.  We thank Representative Kelly and all of the signatories to this comment, and we urge the Administration to urgently finalize their proposed rule as written,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety.

The full text of the letter can be found HERE.