Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Democratic Administrations Flip-Flop-Flip on Gun Dealer Licensing

Monday, March 21, 2022

Democratic Administrations Flip-Flop-Flip on Gun Dealer Licensing

Recent Democratic presidential administrations have been all over the place when it comes to gun dealer licensing. In the early 1990s, President Bill Clinton went to great efforts to eliminate as many Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs or gun dealers) as he could. President Barack Obama reversed course and demanded that those marginally engaged in the businessof gun selling acquire an FFL. Now President Joe Bidens administration has the government running the Clinton playbook again operating a zero tolerancepolicy that is shuttering FFLs over trivial violations. This sort of schizophrenic policy-making could give the impression that this strategy” has been motivated by anti-gun politics rather than concerns about violent crime.

It was an article of faith among gun control organizations in the early-1990s that there were just too many gun dealers in the country. Back in the pre-District of Columbia v. Heller days, gun control supporters were more honest about their goals and anything that made guns more obtainable, like a healthy supply of gun dealers, was something they openly opposed.

Never mind the fact that FFLs were, and are, subject to significant federal regulation and help to carry out the federal firearm tracing scheme that gun control proponents contend is vital to public safety. Moreover, this campaign neglected ATFs history of forcing low-volume gun dealersinto the federal licensing scheme. In the 1980s for example, there was evidence of ATF revoking the FFL of a person because he only sold three guns during the year, while simultaneously prosecuting another person for selling three guns that year without a license.

In December 1992, the handgun prohibitionists at the Violence Policy Center published a report titled More Gun Dealers Than Gas Stations.The authors whined that there was a bloated, unmanageable universe of illegitimate FFL holders.VPC took particular aim at small-scale FFLs they termed kitchen-tablegun dealers.

Less than a year later, Clinton targeted these small businesses.

On August 11, 1993 Clinton issued a memorandum for the Secretary of the Treasury on gun dealer licensing. The memo directed the secretary to take whatever steps are necessaryto reduce the number of gun dealers. Clinton complained, 30 percent of licensees engage in a limited level of business, typically out of private residences.” At Clintons behest, ATF implemented regulatory restrictions that sought to create a minimum threshold of business activity for FFL eligibility.

Clintons attack on small-scale FFLs proved effective, with the number of gun dealers dropping 80 percent between 1994 and 2007. In 2006, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Director Dennis Henigan called Clintons assault on firearm commerce a major policy success.

Shedding doubt on Henigans dubious characterization, in January 2016 Obama reversed course on the Clinton-era policy.

By that year, so-called universalbackground checks were gun control proponentsobsession. Having failed to curb private firearm transfers in April 2013 with the Manchin-Toomey amendment, gun controllers were eager to stretch federal law to require background checks on a wider array of gun sales.

Under federal law, those engaged in the businessof selling firearms must obtain an FFL and conduct background checks on prospective buyers. Those who sell guns out of a personal collection without doing so with the principal objective of livelihood and profitdo not need to be licensed with the federal government and are not required by federal law to conduct background checks.

Understanding that the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 limited the federal governments ability to regulate the private transfer of firearms, the Obama administration released a document clarifying the circumstances under which a person must obtain an FFL. Titled, Do I need a license to buy and sell firearms?,the guidance explained the relevant federal statutes and regulations concerning firearm dealing and summarized the administrations view of the controlling case law.

In a fact sheetaccompanying the guidance, the Obama administration made clear that their goal was to get more individuals into the federal licensing scheme, and thus increase the number of firearm transfers that were subject to a background check. The document described the goal of the Administrations efforts as ensur[ing] that anyone who is engaged in the businessof selling firearms is licensed and conducts background checks on their customers.In direct contrast to Clinton-era policy, the fact sheetstated,

Quantity and frequency of sales are relevant indicators. There is no specific threshold number of firearms purchased or sold that triggers the licensure requirement. But it is important to note that even a few transactions, when combined with other evidence, can be sufficient to establish that a person is “engaged in the business.” For example, courts have upheld convictions for dealing without a license when as few as two firearms were sold or when only one or two transactions took place, when other factors also were present.

Biden appears to have characteristically forgotten about the Obama administrations effort to increase the number of FFLs.

On June 23, 2021, the Biden administration announced a new policy of zero tolerance for rogue gun dealers that willfully violate the law.The policy further specified that [a]bsent extraordinary circumstances that would need to be justified to the Director, ATF will seek to revoke the licenses of dealers the first time that they violate federal law...for certain specified violations.

Then, last December, ATF updated its Federal Firearms Licensee Quick Reference and Best Practices Guide. The updated guide makes clear that ATF will, absent extraordinary circumstances, initiate proceedings to revoke the license of any dealer that has committed a willful regulatory violation of the Gun Control Act (GCA) for specified violations.

Despite the Biden administrations colorful characterization of the dealers they claim to be targeting, their zero tolerancepolicy can result in the revocation of a well-meaning gun dealers FFL for minor mistakes, including simple paperwork errors. The new zero tolerancepolicy has a clear aim of reducing the number of federally licensed dealers, which will in turn make it more difficult for law-abiding Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

So, it seems the Democratic strategy is to decrease, then increase, then decrease gun dealers in order to reduce violent crime. That confused approach to the federal firearm licensing regime makes little sense if taken at face value. However, more cynical observers may detect an overarching pattern in the madness: Frustrate law-abiding gun owners by whatever means possible.

TRENDING NOW
“I Did That!” Biden’s Gas Crisis Creates Public Safety Crisis

News  

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

“I Did That!” Biden’s Gas Crisis Creates Public Safety Crisis

The Biden Administration is serious about making it more difficult for responsible citizens to exercise their gun rights, which is hardly surprising from the most anti-Second Amendment president in history. What is less obvious is ...

SCOTUS Reverses and Remands Two NRA-ILA Backed Magazine Cases

News  

Thursday, June 30, 2022

SCOTUS Reverses and Remands Two NRA-ILA Backed Magazine Cases

One week after our landmark victory in NYSRPA v. Bruen, the Supreme Court issued orders in two other NRA-ILA backed cases. Those cases, ANJRPC v. Bruck and Duncan v. Bonta, challenge New Jersey and California laws that ban magazines capable ...

California: Legislature Passes and Newsom Signs Anti-Gun Bills

Friday, July 1, 2022

California: Legislature Passes and Newsom Signs Anti-Gun Bills

The California Legislature starts their Summer recess today, but not before a busy week full of defiant action against the recent Supreme Court victory in the NRA case of NYSRPA v. Bruen. The legislature passed several anti-gun ...

New Jersey:  Despite Historic Supreme Court Ruling Gun Bills Advance in Trenton

Friday, July 1, 2022

New Jersey: Despite Historic Supreme Court Ruling Gun Bills Advance in Trenton

On the heels of last week’s landmark Supreme Court decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, Majority Democrats in Trenton doubled down on even more Second Amendment infringements by passing yet another package of gun bills.  This is ...

A Century of Opposition to New York’s Sullivan Law

News  

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

A Century of Opposition to New York’s Sullivan Law

On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York’s discretionary carry licensing regime as a violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms in the NRA-backed case NYSRPA v. Bruen. The law at ...

California Leaks Personal Data of Carry Permit Holders

News  

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

California Leaks Personal Data of Carry Permit Holders

On Monday June 27, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the launch of the California Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Firearms Dashboard Portal. The data tool was designed to give granular firearm transaction and Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) permit ...

New York:  Majority Democrats Vote in Lockstep to Defy the United States Supreme Court

Friday, July 1, 2022

New York: Majority Democrats Vote in Lockstep to Defy the United States Supreme Court

Anti-Second Amendment politicians returned to Albany late this week and did the bidding of Gov. Kathy Hochul.  She called the Legislature back into an “extraordinary” session this week.  The session was anything but extraordinary. Lawmakers ...

The Dominoes Begin to Fall: NJ Amends Permit Rules After Bruen

News  

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Dominoes Begin to Fall: NJ Amends Permit Rules After Bruen

New Jersey’s acting Attorney General, Matthew J. Platkin, issued a directive “clarifying requirements for carrying firearms in public” a day after the historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. ...

NRA-ILA Asks Court to Stop the California DOJ From Releasing Gun Owners’ Personal Information After Massive Data Leak.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

NRA-ILA Asks Court to Stop the California DOJ From Releasing Gun Owners’ Personal Information After Massive Data Leak.

Earlier this week, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that he would be releasing firearms data via the California DOJ’s Firearms Dashboard Portal. That data contained gun owners’ names, dates of birth, gender, race, driver’s license numbers, addresses, and criminal ...

North Carolina: Carry Permit Training Bill Going to Senate Floor

Thursday, June 30, 2022

North Carolina: Carry Permit Training Bill Going to Senate Floor

Today, the Senate pulled House Bill 49 from the Committee on Rules and Operations and will send it to the floor for final passage. It requires sheriffs to waive the training requirement for former concealed carry permit ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.