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'No magic number' when defining what is a 'firearms dealer' says local attorney

Posted at 6:41 PM, Apr 24, 2024

Earlier this month, the Justice Department made a significant announcement regarding gun regulations, marking one of the most substantial changes in decades. The move aims to close what some gun-control advocates refer to as the 'gun show loophole.'

Under the new rule, businesses subject to background checks due to their status as federal firearms licensees remain largely unaffected. However, legal experts suggest that the latest regulation intends to prompt private citizens to exercise greater vigilance regarding who they sell their guns to.

Grant Wille, a criminal defense attorney at Ralls & Wille in Tucson, shared insights on the purpose of the rule stating "The purpose of this rule, as far as I can tell, is just asking gun owners to be a little more responsible."

According to the Justice Department's new guideline, gun dealers are defined as individuals primarily intending to earn a profit. However, Wille emphasized that there is no specific threshold determining when someone crosses into the realm of being considered a dealer.

"Is there a magic number? The whole point of this is ‘no, there is not a magic number,’" Wille stated.

He further explained that even selling just one firearm could result in the need for a federal firearms license, drawing an analogy to the real estate business.

"If you’re in the business of flipping house. You’re just getting started, you do one house. With that one house, you’re trying to make a profit, then you’re in the business of flipping houses."

Wille underscored the importance of precautions such as exchanging driver’s license information, even if not legally required to perform a background check. Arizona is one of 30 states that don't legally require background checks on would-be buyers during private sales.

"Another good idea would be saving any communications you have with the person whether it’s text messages or emails," he advised.

While it’s unclear how the government will enforce the new rule Wille says this is just one way to go about dealing with a complex issue.

"We can find a way to make all this work and to uphold the second amendment and also ensure the safety of our community and our kids."

Kenny Darr is a reporter for KGUN 9. He joined the team in January 2023. Before arriving in Arizona he was an Anchor and Reporter at KADN in Lafayette, LA. Share your story ideas with Kenny by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.