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Will new Biden rule to close 'gun show loophole' affect gun sales in Arizona?

Maine Guns
Posted at 12:48 AM, Apr 12, 2024

TUCSON, AZ. (KGUN) — Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a new measure, described by the Justice Department as a 'historic step' in the fight against gun violence. The rule seeks to provide a clearer definition of what constitutes a firearms dealer.

"If you sell guns predominantly to earn a profit, you must be licensed and you must conduct background checks," Garland said while addressing reporters at the White House Thursday.

The new regulation finalizes a new rule aimed at closing what gun control advocates refer to as the 'gun show loophole,' which allows individuals to sell firearms in less formal settings such as gun shows or online marketplaces without conducting background checks.

"Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the internet, at a gun show, or at a brick-and-mortar store. If you sell guns predominantly to earn a profit, you must be licensed, and you must conduct background checks," Garland said.

The Biden Administration first introduced the rule in 2023 after passing a bipartisan effort in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers.

In Arizona, the so-called loophole is the law. Arizona law allows any private collector to sell guns at places like gun shows without the need for a Federal Firearms License or FFL. For firearms dealers, there is no state law requiring a gun license. However, dealers are still required to obtain an FFL, regardless if guns are being sold at a brick-and-mortar store or through gun shows.

According to estimates from the Department of Justice, this rule could impact more than 80,000 gun sales.

However, not all voices agree with this approach. Charles Heller, a co-founder of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, a nonprofit focused on upholding the rights of Arizona citizens including their right to bear arms, believes the new rule misses the mark in reducing gun violence.

"It's not going to make a hell of a lot of difference either way," The 29-year firearms instructor said. "Because people could simply meet in the gun show if they want to and then go somewhere else and do the transaction."

On the other side of the debate, supporters of the new rule are optimistic about its potential impact. Nick Suplina, the Senior Vice President for Law and Policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit focused on gun violence prevention with grassroots organizations across the country, including in Tucson under 'Moms Demand Action,' sees it as "a game changer."

Suplina believes this rule could have a significant effect on gun sales in states like Arizona, where Second Amendment laws are among the least restrictive.

"I believe that many of those guns are individuals selling firearms without a background check, so no records of those sales, and I think this rule should curb that behavior significantly," Suplina explained.

Arizona is one of 30 states that currently require background checks only for licensed dealers.

The new rule announced Thursday is expected to go into effect in 30 days after being added to the Federal Register.