Gun Laws & Legislation

Republicans Helped Biden Implement ‘Backdoor’ Universal Background Checks, Gun Advocates Say

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Bronson Winslow Second Amendment & Politics Reporter
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President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he will be expanding current background checks as close to “universal background checks” as possible, an action made possible by Republican language added to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) in 2022, gun advocates say.

Biden directed Attorney General Merrick Garland expand background checks Tuesday after Republicans added language to the BSCA that revised the definition of who is “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms, according to Second Amendment advocate Gun Owners Of America (GOA). The BSCA, voted for by 15 Republicans, mimicked Obama administration language that sought to restrict gun show and online firearm sales, while requiring federal firearm licenses (FFL) for all gun sales, requirements that assist the administration in tracking the movement of firearms.

“Senators Cornyn and McConnell had no business giving President Biden the opportunity to modify the definition of a gun store with the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” GOA Director of Federal Affairs Aidan Johnston told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The expanded definition of a gun store will be used to implement backdoor universal background checks, just like the Obama administration attempted.” (RELATED: ‘Zero Tolerance’: The Biden Admin Is Allegedly Shutting Down Gun Stores For Minor Clerical Errors)

Before the BSCA, the definition of someone who “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms was limited to wholesalers, retailers, firearm repair and pawnbrokers. The definition, in place for 53 years, was used to regulate commercial gun sales and not law-abiding private transfers and sales of firearms, according to GOA.

Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn, through a compromise with Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, added a clarification in the BSCA, saying the definition of “engaged in the business” would expand to anyone who earned a profit through the sale of a firearm, according to GOA. Clarifying the definition of a FLL was a key portion of the legislation.

“To suggest that this would apply to someone who deals one firearm to earn a profit is inaccurate and misses all the other steps in the statute. Additionally, the Biden administration is not the final say on how this statute is interpreted, federal courts and judges are,” a spokesperson for Cornyn told the DCNF.

Biden’s executive order explicitly cites the BSCA’s updated definition of who is engaged in firearms dealing, according to a White House fact sheet.

By expanding the definition of a firearm dealer, the BSCA enabled the Biden administration to easily expand federal regulations and require anyone who sells more than one gun to register as a Federal Firearm License (FFL ) holder, GOA argued.

“The goal of President Biden’s new backdoor [universal background check] scheme is to turn as many private citizens who sell their guns into FFLs, restricting their ability to conduct private gun transfers without a background check and a Firearm Transaction Record (Form 4473) recording the firearm in ATF’s illegal national federal registry. Remember, the ATF already has a database of nearly one billion gun and gun owner records in a database in West Virginia,” Johnston said.

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