The Biden administration announced its proposal to broadly expand background checks for gun sales, leveraging a piece of last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to close a loophole that exempts private sellers from conducting checks. Often referred to as the “gun show loophole,” the gap has been used by many businesses to avoid registering as a Federal Firearms Licensee while still routinely selling guns at gun shows or through online classified sites.
The Justice Department’s proposed regulation specifies which sellers need to obtain a license by clarifying what it means to be “engaged in the business of dealing in firearms.” The rule would essentially limit the private sale exemption only to deals between family members and to people who buy and sell “collectible” firearms as a hobby. Otherwise, NBC reports, anyone who deals guns for profit would be required to get a license, and thus run background checks — including those who sell at gun shows and on the internet.
As The Trace reported in 2020, ambiguity in what constitutes being “engaged in the business” made it difficult to discern when gun dealing turns from a hobby into a full-fledged enterprise. In combination with laws designed to help the internet flourish, that ambiguity ensured online sellers could keep guns flowing — with few questions asked.
What to Know Today
A new Texas law requiring armed officers at every school in the state went into effect last week. But as the school year begins, dozens of Texas’s largest school districts haven’t been able to comply with the mandate — largely due to a lack of funding and a shortage of police. [Associated Press] Context: There’s limited evidence that armed guards are actually a deterrent to gun violence and mass shootings in schools.
Ralph Yarl, the Missouri teenager who was shot and injured after mistakenly going to the wrong house, testified in a hearing last week for the criminal case against the man who opened fire on him. Many Kansas City residents believe race played a role in the shooting — Yarl is Black, and his shooter is white — but issues of race hardly came up in the courtroom. [The New York Times]
A group of 46 mayors in Georgia — representing not only blue cities like Atlanta and Savannah but also towns in conservative, rural areas — penned a letter to Governor Brian Kemp and the General Assembly asking for new gun safety measures. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
The suicide rate among young Black people rose nearly 150 percent from 2007 to 2020, according to a new report by researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Gun Violence Solutions. The study found that Black LGBTQ+ youth are particularly at risk. [The Baltimore Banner]
Philadelphia students will see beefed-up security measures when they return to school this week. This year’s safety measures involve increased surveillance, including through the use of drones and AI-powered gun-detection technology, as well as enhanced police presence during arrival and dismissal. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
Juan Campos, a street outreach worker in Oakland, California, has been working to save young people from gun violence for 16 years. He’s seen the power of gangs, and helped teenagers emerging from the juvenile justice system — but he says he’s never confronted a force as formidable as social media, where small comments can quickly escalate into deadly violence. [KFF Health News]
The city of Uvalde, Texas, refiled a lawsuit against District Attorney Christina Mitchell, alleging that she is stonewalling its internal investigation of the response to the massacre at Robb Elementary School last year. Mayor Don McLaughlin accused Mitchell of being “involved in a cover-up” and called for her resignation. [San Antonio Express-News/Texas Public Radio]
Millions of Guns For Sale. Few Questions Asked: Armslist is one of the easiest ways to buy a gun online — especially if you’re not supposed to have one. (January 2020)