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Everytown, Moms Demand Action Respond to Senate GOP Efforts to Repeal New ATF Rule Expanding Background Checks to Online, Gun Show Sales


WASHINGTON — In response to Senate Republicans introducing S.J. Res. 83 to overturn ATF’s recently finalized rule that implements the historic Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to help close loopholes that have allowed unlicensed gun sellers to sell guns without a background check, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots network Moms Demand Action released the following statements:

“ATF’s rule is clear, common sense and consistent with both the letter and spirit of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Repealing this rule would only make it easier for gun traffickers and other criminals to acquire illegal guns, putting law enforcement and communities at greater risk of gun violence,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We urge every member of Congress to heed the vast majority of Americans who want a stronger background check system, and vote no on this resolution.”

“There are few policies with stronger bipartisan support than expanding background checks on gun sales. Repealing ATF’s life-saving rule would be a victory for gun traffickers and a gun industry that continues to profit from a crisis that takes the lives of 120 Americans every single day,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “Thankfully, we can count on President Biden and our gun sense lawmakers in Congress to defeat this reckless effort to undo the life-saving work of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.”

In 2022, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) into law. Through BSCA, Congress clarified and expanded a decades-old federal statute that requires those who are “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms to become licensed dealers. Under federal law, only licensed dealers are required to run background checks and have been required to do so since the 1990s. To implement BSCA’s changes, ATF finalized a rule that updates existing regulations to match Congress’ new “engaged in the business” standard. 

ATF’s rule provides clear guidance: People who seek to sell guns for profit—whether at a brick-and-mortar store, gun show, or online—must become licensed dealers and, in turn, run background checks. With more licensed dealers, the rule will limit the number of marketplaces where prohibited persons, like convicted felons and domestic abusers, can purchase firearms without a background check, and help law enforcement investigate and solve gun crimes.

Congress made these reforms in BSCA to address the serious public safety risks that unlicensed gun sellers pose. These risks were made clear in the 2019 shooting spree that took place in Midland and Odessa, Texas, where a gunman purchased an AR-15 from an unlicensed seller he found online without a background check. He then killed seven and wounded 25 more. Recent data further underscores these risks: From 2017 to 2021, over 40% of gun trafficking cases involved unlicensed sellers, and guns trafficked through them were later used in shootings in almost 370 cases.