Gun Laws & Legislation

‘It’s Very Clear’: Biden’s ATF Director Gets Flustered After Chip Roy Grills Him On Background Check Rule

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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Steve Dettelbach was unable to answer questions about a background check rule enacted by the Biden administration during a Thursday hearing.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas pressed Dettelbach about the rule during a Thursday hearing of the House Judiciary Committee titled “Oversight of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.” Roy asked Dettelbach questions regarding the rule announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland on April 10, asking the ATF director how many firearms would need to be sold before someone would be required to get a Federal Firearms License (FFL). (RELATED: Federal Judge Blocks Biden ATF Rule Expanding Gun Background Checks)

“If I want to sell a gun that I currently own to a friend in Texas, do I need a license?” Roy asked Dettelbach.

“So the getting into the specifics of the role, which is in litigation…” Dettelbach said before Roy interrupted the ATF director, saying, “This ought to be a really simple question.”


“I understand,” Dettelbach replied, “So, you look at the totality of the circumstances. If we’re talking about an isolated sale from somebody who is not engaged in the business of dealing firearms, you don’t need a license.”

Under 18 USC 922(a), only people with a FFL can engage in the selling of firearms as a business.

“So if I a citizen this, this country, I live in Texas, I have a weapon and I want to sell it to a fellow Texan, on an isolated basis, do I need a license?” Roy asked.

“Again, if, if you’re not engaged in the business of selling firearms, those are Congress’s words…”

Roy interrupted to outline another hypothetical situation, where a person sells firearms occasionally.

“I think, pursuant to the clear language of Congress, in doing this and to the things we said in the rule, we specifically mention inheritance as one of the things that is not indicative of engaging in the business,” Dettelbach said. (RELATED: Republican AGs File Suit Against Biden’s ATF Over Background Check Rule)

Roy pressed Dettelbach for additional clarification

Roy pressed Dettelbach for additional clarification. “It’s very clear that you look at the totality of circumstances,” Dettelbach said. “We can go through an endless series of hypotheticals. Hypotheticals aren’t the way we…”

“Do you understand why the average citizen sitting out there, saying ‘I’ve got four hundred pages of rulemaking might not understand what they are allowed to do under the law when the director of the ATF can’t look at a member of Congress and tell me yes or no emphatically whether or not if I sell a weapon or two weapons or three weapons or five, whether or not I need a license?” Roy asked after interrupting Dettelbach.

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