A whistleblower group alleges the Biden administration’s Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) is working on a rule that would enforce severe regulations on private gun sales.
Empower Oversight is demanding the Biden administration provide the documents under development.
“Empower Oversight has learned through whistleblowers within ATF that at the direction of the White House, ATF has drafted a 1,300 page document to justify a rule effectively banning the private sale of firearms,” Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt wrote.
“The whistleblowers say the rule is being drafted by Senior Policy Counsel Eric Epstein, who worked as the Phoenix Field Office’s Division Counsel during Operation Wide Received (a precursor of Operation Fast and Furious),” he continued.
The whistleblowers say the rule is being drafted by Senior Policy Counsel Eric Epstein, who worked as the Phoenix Field Office's Division Counsel during Operation Wide Received (a precursor of Operation Fast and Furious).
— Tristan Leavitt (@tristanleavitt) January 31, 2024
“Such a sweeping rule with the effect of banning private sales would clearly violate the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which declares that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,'” he added.
“It would also circumvent the separation of powers in the Constitution, which grants ‘all legislative Powers’ to Congress while requiring that the President ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,'” he noted.
It would also circumvent the separation of powers in the Constitution, which grants “all legislative Powers” to Congress while requiring that the President “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” https://t.co/TinZVyN3HK
— Tristan Leavitt (@tristanleavitt) January 31, 2024
The Federalist reports:
Federal law currently requires background checks for any gun buyers who purchase their new weapons through a licensed federal firearms dealer (FFL). Two sources in communication with Empower Oversight confirmed the ATF is prepared to move forward with a rule that would classify a closed-door gun sale between friends or family members the same as firearm purchases made from FFLs.
The rule, proposed by the DOJ and ATF at the behest of Biden’s gun control wish list issued in March 2023, seeks to change the definition of “who is engaged in the business of dealing in firearms” to increase the number of Americans required to become FFLs, a lengthy and far from “easy” process, that must conduct background checks to sell their guns. The ATF and DOJ credits Democrats’ 2022 gun control bill, which passed because more than a dozen Republican senators agreed to betray their base.
The 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act determined that regulation of those “engaged in the business” of selling guns commercially “shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.”
“The fact that inside ATF sources are blowing the whistle on this draft rule is an indication of what a difficult position it would put the ATF in. ATF agents did not sign up to go after law-abiding citizens for private sales protected under the Second Amendment of the Constitution,” Leavitt said.
From Empower Oversight:
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and ATF Director Steven Dettelbach, Leavitt wrote:
Such an expansive rule that treats all private citizens the same as federal firearms licensees would circumvent the separation of powers in the Constitution, which grants “all legislative Powers” to Congress while requiring that the President “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” To the extent such a rule prevents the private sale of firearms, it would also clearly violate the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which declares that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Empower has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for records related to Executive Order 14092, communications regarding regulating or banning the sale of firearms between private citizens.
— Empower Oversight (@EMPOWR_us) January 31, 2024
The New York Post added:
Empower Oversight sent a Freedom of Information Act request Wednesday to the Justice Department and ATF seeking additional information, including communications with the White House and any Epstein emails involving the alleged plan.
Federally licensed dealers must conduct background checks by entering gun-buyer information into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Although the precise wording of the pending proposal wasn’t released, the whistleblower concern stems from the fact that some sellers might be unable to easily access NICS or unaware of the need to do so, putting themselves in legal jeopardy.
The ATF already has interpreted a 2022 bipartisan gun law enacted after a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school as expanding who must register as a federally licensed dealer to include people who repetitively sell guns “to predominantly earn a profit.”
Previously, the registration only applied to sellers who had “the principal objective of livelihood and profit.”
It’s unclear what carveouts — such as for family gun transfers — may be included in the alleged pending ATF regulation, which would have to undergo a public notice and comment period.
It also is unclear what would become of the current proposed regulation that would ratify the ATF’s interpretation of the bipartisan reform law.