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November 9, 2015

Gun Control Groups Push for Redefining Reality


According to news reports, the Obama Administration is considering redefining a key term that would impact the firearms industry and law abiding gun owners.  Federal law requires a license to engage in the business of dealing firearms. Under pressure from gun control groups, Obama is considering drastically expanding what is considered being “engaged in the business.” The administration’s goal is to redefine the term to include more non-licensees in the definition of “dealer,” so as to expand the number of background checks.

The current, long-standing, definition includes individuals who earn a livelihood from buying and selling firearms, but excludes the occasional sale or purchase for personal collections or as a hobby.

The new expanded definition apparently being considered may set a threshold of the number of firearms that an individual may sell in a given year before being “engaged in the business.” While this would increase the number of licensees and background checks, there are serious unintended consequences for those that are captured by the new definition, for existing licensees and for the ATF. Even lawyers within the Obama Administration acknowledge that setting an arbitrary numerical threshold would open the door to a legal challenge.

Gun control advocacy groups are driving the efforts to redefine this term.  This represents a drastic reversal from the same groups’ lobbying activities under the Clinton Administration, when the goal was to reduce the number of licenses given to what the gun control groups vilified as so-called “kitchen table” dealers and ensure those with licenses were actually engaged in the business of dealing firearms. Despite the apparent reaching of the gun control groups’ goals, they have now reversed course and desire to see more gun owners and hobbyists become licensed dealers.

For more about the current regulations and the significant unintended consequences of a dramatic definition change, check out the NSSF fact sheet on the issue.