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ATF Announces Final Rule on Private Gun Sales

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A buyer and seller engaging in a private party firearm sale

In layman’s terms: the ATFs new rule means that even if you sell one gun in a private transaction, you may need to register as a firearms dealer.

The Justice Department yesterday announced that the final rule for “Engaged in the Business” as a Firearms Dealer has been posted to the Federal Register and goes into effect in 30 days.

The rule deters private party sales (which have been legal up to now), by requiring anyone selling a firearm to register as a firearms dealer and perform a background check. To achieve this, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) redefined the phrase “engaged in the business” in such a way as to implicate even one-off sales by a private party.

The rule, which was part of the so-called “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act”, passed in 2022, is plagued with hazards and traps for law-abiding gun owners who may wish to sell a couple of their firearms to another party, or even to a family member.

See our original article here: ATF Changes More Definitions

As proof of its own vagueness, and potential hazard for gun owners, the rule states, “Similarly, there is no minimum number of transactions that determines whether a person is “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms. Even a single firearm transaction, or offer to engage in a transaction, when combined with other evidence, may be sufficient to require a license.”

During the 90-day open comment period, the ATF received nearly 388,000 comments on the rule, many of which criticized it for its vagueness and redefining terms that have long been understood.

The new rule is likely to be challenged with a lawsuit by any one of the many gun rights organizations.

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