Cornyn Engages in Damage Control on ATF New Rule

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act wouldn't have passed without the help of one Sen. John Cornyn.

Cornyn championed the bill in the Senate, getting enough Republicans to sign on in order to get it out of that chamber and onto the House where there was never a chance at stopping it.


Which, honestly, might not have been too big of a deal were it not for this one bit that changed the definition of gun dealer, removing the requirement that someone attempt to make a livelihood out of selling firearms.

It seemed a small thing, but now it's opening up things for the ATF where they can essentially push through universal background checks without going through Congress.

And Cornyn is now trying to do something about it.

The U.S. Justice Department rolled out a new policy last month requiring background checks for people who informally sell firearms at gun shows or on the internet. The rule, which is set to take effect on May 20, is based on a revised definition of gun dealers put forth in Cornyn’s so-called Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Previously, gun dealers were defined under federal law as those who sell firearms with the “principal objective of livelihood and profit.” Under the revised definition, gun dealers are any people who “predominantly earn a profit” from selling firearms.

“Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the internet, at a gun show, or at a brick-and-mortar store: if you sell guns predominantly to earn a profit, you must be licensed, and you must conduct background checks,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said last month. “This regulation is a historic step in the Justice Department’s fight against gun violence. It will save lives.”

Cornyn has vowed to file a congressional resolution of disapproval over the policy, and he said the Biden administration’s efforts to tie it to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is “an outright lie.”

“This rule has long been on Democrats’ wish list, and for the Biden administration to say it’s a result of our school safety and mental health law is a shameless attempt to hide their real goal: to take away the firearms of every law-abiding American,” Cornyn said in a joint statement with North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. “We will fight this unconstitutional rule tooth and nail, and look forward to overturning it in the Senate as soon as possible.”


I'm sorry, but Cornyn doesn't get to play savior here.

He's the reason we're in this mess to begin with. Were it not for him crossing the lines for BSCA, the definitions wouldn't have changed enough for the ATF to even begin to try this. He cajoled and pushed for the precise legislation that opened the door.

Now, he's trying to engage in damage control, hoping he can keep his job by being aggressive in his rhetoric about the Biden administration's efforts.

Did he not see this coming? Did he even read the bill?

To be fair, I don't actually think Cornyn intended for this to happen. I think he just didn't think through the ramifications of his actions. 

Yet let's also remember that we don't give people a pass on the results of their actions. How many people are held culpable for the accidents they get into while driving drunk? They don't intend to hit other cars or pedestrians, but they do, and we hold them accountable.

The Crumbleys didn't intend for their child to carry out a mass shooting, but the lack of intention didn't absolve them in the eyes of the court.

Hannah Guiterrez-Reed didn't intend for a live round to end up in the gun that killed Halyna Hutchins, but she's going to do time for it just the same.

We hold people accountable for the outcomes of their actions, and in this case, Cornyn's actions directly led to the ATF's proposed rule. While we can argue that even with the BSCA's changes, it's still overreach, it's overreach that wouldn't be remotely possible had Cornyn not bent the knee to Biden on it in the first place.


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