Yesterday, President Barack Obama stated his intention to make people who do not sell guns professionally acquire a federal firearms license (FFL), suggesting that individuals might need to acquire a FFL to sell as few as one or two guns.
Today, the Administration is announcing the following executive actions to ensure that all gun dealers are licensed and run background checks, and to strengthen the background check system itself:
- 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. Background checks have been shown to keep guns out of the wrong hands, but too many gun sales—particularly online and at gun shows—occur without basic background checks. Today, the Administration took action to ensure that anyone who is “engaged in the business” of selling firearms is licensed and conducts background checks on their customers. Consistent with court rulings on this issue, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has clarified the following principles:
- A person can be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms regardless of the location in which firearm transactions are conducted. For example, a person can be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms even if the person only conducts firearm transactions at gun shows or through the Internet. Those engaged in the business of dealing in firearms who utilize the Internet or other technologies must obtain a license, just as a dealer whose business is run out of a traditional brick-and-mortar store.
- Quantity and frequency of sales are relevant indicators. 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.” For example, courts have upheld convictions for dealing without a license when as few as two firearms were sold or when only one or two transactions took place, when other factors also were present.
- There are criminal penalties for failing to comply with these requirements. A person who willfully engages in the business of dealing in firearms without the required license is subject to criminal prosecution and can be sentenced up to five years in prison and fined up to $250,000. Dealers are also subject to penalties for failing to conduct background checks before completing a sale.
President Obama’s clear intent is to make anyone selling even a few guns out of a personal collection acquire a license, driving up the number of FFLS the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) must oversea significantly, if not exponentially.
The thing is, we’ve been down this road before… and the same people cheering the President today have historically been outraged when there are a high number of part-time dealers, accusing these so-called “kitchen-table dealers” of being a driving reason why violent crime rate was so high in the early 1990s…
“The FFL is a public safety scandal created by the very agency charged with enforcing federal firearms laws. By giving a federal gun-dealing license to virtually anyone who can come up with $30 and isn’t a convicted felon, ATF has put criminals in the business of selling guns.”—Josh Sugarmann, Violence Policy Center, 1992
There were roughly 252,000 in 1993 when the administration of Bill Clinton took steps to eliminate these “kitchen-table dealers,” which over time reduced number of FFLs down to just over 50,000 current full-time professional FFLs today.
Barack Obama currently resides over a United States with the highest number of guns ever owned by a citizenry anywhere at any time, but also with the lowest per-capita murder rate in recorded U.S. history. The reduction in the number of FFLs that the ATF has to inspect seems to track with the dramatic reduction in violence crime.
Why does Barack Obama want to reverse that?