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Gabby Giffords: President Biden’s New Background Checks Will Save Lives

Washington DC GIFFORDS founder, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, released a statement on Thursday applauding the finalization of President Joe Biden’s initiatives to expand background checks. In September 2023, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in accordance with the historic gun safety legislation, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, released a proposed rule to clarify the definition of who is considered “engaged in the business” of selling firearms and therefore subject to the legal requirements of a licensed gun dealer – such as running background checks on buyers. GIFFORDS and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords have been advocating for this background check expansion since 2013. In December, Congresswoman Giffords submitted an official comment to ATF supporting the proposed rule.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:

“President Biden stood strong and saved lives today. His administration took bold action to address a gaping loophole that allowed firearm dealers to sell guns without performing background checks and let anyone intent on doing harm to buy a gun, no questions asked. This new rule will make sure fewer people slip through the cracks, and we’re all safer for it.

“Since I started GIFFORDS 11 years ago, closing this loophole has been at the top of our agenda. It took hard work, and the gun lobby fought us every step of the way. But thanks to our growing movement of passionate advocates and a president who won’t back down from a fight, we are closer to universal background checks than ever. Thank you, President Biden.”

More on GIFFORDS’s work:

During a January 2015 meeting with former President Barack Obama, GIFFORDS called on the Obama administration to clarify the definition of “engaged in the business” and require more gun sellers to become licensed and conduct background checks on gun buyers. Later that year, Gabby Giffords again met with President Obama and urged him to pursue a number of executive actions on gun safety, including on background checks. 

In early 2016, ATF issued guidance specifying that a person can be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms regardless of the location in which firearm transactions are conducted, and that those engaged in the business of dealing in firearms who utilize the internet or other technologies must obtain a federal firearms license. While this was an important step forward, GIFFORDS has continued to recommend that federal rulemaking building on this guidance could further shrink the background checks loophole and reduce the volume of guns sold without a background check.

During the 2020 presidential transition, GIFFORDS and the Center for American Progress collaborated on a memo outlining dozens of gun safety priorities for the incoming Biden-Harris administration, including a recommendation for a rulemaking to clarify that any person who sells five guns or more in any 12 month period is “in the business” of selling firearms, regardless of whether the profits from such sales constitute a significant portion of the seller’s “livelihood.” 

Following passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in 2022, GIFFORDS again urged ATF to follow up on Congress’s intent to include those who make repetitive sales in the federal licensing regime and issue a regulation stating that any person who sells five guns or more in any 12 month period is “in the business” of selling firearms.


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