US Justice Dept seeks to close loopholes on some gun sales

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday proposed expanding the definition of firearms dealers who are required to obtain a federal license, implementing provisions included in last year’s bipartisan gun safety law.

The proposed rule would require sellers to obtain a U.S. license if they “devote time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms,” not just those who earn a “livelihood” from such sales, senior DOJ officials said.

THE TAKE: The change means certain unlicensed sellers at gun shows and other places will now need to get licensed and run background checks on firearm buyers.


“An increasing number of individuals engaged in the business of selling firearms for profit have chosen not to register as federal firearms licensees, as required by law,” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director Steven Dettelbach said.

“Instead, they have sought to make money through the off-book, illicit sale of firearms… This new proposed rule would clarify the circumstances in which a person is ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing in firearms.”

CONTEXT: U.S. lawmakers passed a major federal gun reform in June 2022 following a string of mass shootings and days after a Supreme Court decision that expanded firearm owners’ rights.

In March, President Joe Biden ordered government agencies to take stock of the law’s implementation and reiterated his call on Congress to further act to reduce gun violence, including a ban on assault weapons.

WHAT’S NEXT: The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register and open for public comment for 90 days before it is finalized, although DOJ officials did not give a specific date. It also could face legal challenges.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)