The U.S. government, under the leadership of President Joe Biden, has introduced a proposal to expand the requirement for firearm sellers to conduct background checks. This move aims to address the increasing rates of gun-related violence in the country.
Some gun rights supporters assert that such a measure would unduly limit their rights.
This action follows President Biden’s directive last year to bolster background checks in light of bipartisan gun-related legislation. However, an association representing the firearms industry voiced concerns regarding this proposal.
The suggested regulation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would mandate that sellers at gun shows or those conducting online sales be licensed and perform background checks on potential buyers.
It’s projected that this would impact a broad range of sellers, between 24,500 and 328,000, targeting specifically those dealing in gun sales rather than individual collectors.
The primary goal of background checks is to prevent sales to those with criminal histories, minors, and others who are legally barred from owning guns, stated the bureau’s director, Steve Dettelbach. Licensed firearm dealers are also obligated to maintain sales records and only sell weapons with traceable serial numbers, facilitating investigations into gun-related crimes.
Steve Dettelbach highlighted the risks posed by unlicensed sellers who bypass these essential public safety protocols.
Endorsing the congressional intent behind the legislation, Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized the necessity of expanded background checks to mitigate gun violence.
Recent tragic incidents, including a racially-motivated mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, have heightened concerns regarding gun violence in the U.S.
The Giffords Center to Prevent Gun Violence praised the new proposal, emphasizing its importance in addressing significant regulatory gaps. Peter Ambler, the Executive Director, commended the administration’s efforts towards achieving comprehensive background checks.
Kris Brown, from the gun control advocacy group Brady, mentioned that a significant portion of gun sales, over 20%, currently bypass background checks.
Contrarily, some pro-gun rights groups believe that such regulations won’t effectively address gun violence. Past regulatory changes by the ATF have often faced legal challenges from these groups.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a prominent group in the firearm industry, expressed deep reservations about the proposal. They believe it oversteps the boundaries set by the previous bipartisan gun legislation and would unfairly burden regular citizens, prompting them to seek federal licensing.
The public will have a 90-day window to provide feedback on this proposed rule, with the finalization date yet to be confirmed.