The White House late Monday issued its new gun control rules and moved to regulate anybody who is "engaged" in selling arms, including those who might just sell a handful, a sweeping rewrite of the federal rules covering firearms dealers.
Current rules require those who make their living in arms sales to get a federal firearm license and to subject buyers to a federal background check. Those who trade in just a few guns, however, aren't regulated.
In the change, Obama junked plans to set a sales number. The administration had considered forcing those who sell as few as 50 guns to be licensed. But in the rewrite, any sale would require licensing.
"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,'" said the White House fact sheet.
The executive rule rewrite, said the White House, will "clarify that it doesn't matter where you conduct your business — from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you're in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks."
However, it is unclear how the federal government will be able to tell who sells guns, especially in private sales or trades or if firearms given to family members and friends triggers the background check for the recipient.
Obama also plans to greatly expand the force involved in conducting background checks by 230 and 200 ATF agents.
From the White House:
The President's Actions to Reduce Gun Violence
So President Obama is taking executive action to reduce gun violence. Here's what his actions are designed to do:
Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making clear that it doesn't matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you're in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks.
- ATF is finalizing a rule to require background checks for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity.
- Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has sent a letter to States highlighting the importance of receiving complete criminal history records and criminal dispositions, information on persons disqualified because of a mental illness, and qualifying crimes of domestic violence.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is overhauling the background check system to make it more effective and efficient. The envisioned improvements include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improving notification of local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. The FBI will hire more than 230 additional examiners and other staff to help process these background checks.
Make our communities safer from gun violence
- The Attorney General convened a call with U.S. Attorneys around the country to direct federal prosecutors to continue to focus on smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws.
- The President's FY2017 budget will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws.
- ATF has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and is dedicating $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.
- ATF is finalizing a rule to ensure that dealers who ship firearms notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen in transit.
- The Attorney General issued a memo encouraging every U.S. Attorney's Office to renew domestic violence outreach efforts.
Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system
- The Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care.
- The Social Security Administration has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons.
- The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.
Shape the future of gun safety technology
- The President has directed the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology
- The President has also directed the departments to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis, and to explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.