GOP Senators Challenge Biden Administration’s ATF Rule on Gun Sales

by Vern Evans
Gun show guns (courtesy

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Republican Senators are pushing back against the Biden administration rule that broadens the definition of who must register as a federal firearms dealer, arguing it imposes unconstitutional restrictions on gun sales.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in introducing a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to overturn the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) rule, which they claim effectively enstates universal background checks. Grassley accused the ATF of overreach, saying, “The Biden administration’s ATF is making a brazen attempt to skirt Congress and the Constitution. The ATF continues to abuse its authority.”

Cornyn, who originally helped negotiate the 2022 gun violence prevention law sparking the ire of gun owners, is now criticizing the administration for exceeding the law’s intent.

“We will fight this lawless rule tooth and nail to ensure the God-given right to keep and bear arms is preserved,” he said in a Roll Call article, adding that the rule distorts congressional intent and violates constitutional rights. Cornyn also told the media outlet that the administration’s actions have undermined bipartisan trust, stating, “Every time that they ask for bipartisanship, then if you provide bipartisan solutions, they overreach.” Of course, Democratic Party overreach is something Cornyn, a longtime politician, should’ve seen coming. Most American gun owners certainly did.

The ATF rule, officially adopted last month, changes the definition of who qualifies as “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms, requiring more sellers to conduct background checks. The 2022 law altered the requirement from selling firearms for “livelihood and profit” to “predominantly earn a profit.” The rule is intended to capture more commercial sellers, not hobbyists or occasional private sales, however, the ambiguous nature of the language and the failure to have it approved through the congressional process, almost certainly guarantees it will most certainly ensnare hobbyists and private sellers. Just ask the family of the late Little Rock, Arkansas, airport executive Brian Malinowski, who was shot dead by ATF agents raiding his home in the middle of the night this past March.

Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a well-known and chronic political deceiver, have praised the rule as a significant step toward universal background checks. Schumer highlighted the rule as a result of bipartisan efforts to Roll Call, saying, “Change is possible when both sides work together” He neglected to add, “or when the Biden Admin unilaterally passes a rule that was not the voted on legislation of Congress.”

However, Republicans who negotiated the 2022 law, such as Tillis, feel betrayed by the administration’s interpretation, though they should have known this was part and parcel of how the Dems operate when it comes to gun laws.

“This overreach is exactly why Republicans don’t trust this Administration,” said Tillis, echoing the sentiments of half of America and virtually every gun owner who supports 2A rights in this country. “I encourage my colleagues to support this CRA we introduced and immediately overturn this ridiculous regulation.”

The CRA resolution follows a court challenge against the rule. Under the CRA, Congress can vote to overturn a federal regulation, which would then require presidential approval. Despite likely facing a veto from President Joe Biden, who has repeatedly supported the rule since it was his administration that urged it on the ATF, the resolution represents significant GOP opposition and could hamper future efforts at obtaining bipartisan support on other important topics.

The ATF and White House have not commented on the resolution. The dispute highlights the broader issue of legislative trust and the difficulties in implementing bipartisan agreements, particularly on contentious issues like gun control.

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