WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to reduce gun violence and keep firearms out of the hands of criminals who shouldn’t have access to them, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is implementing improved background checks and tighter rules on the purchase of firearms.  These tougher regulations are made possible by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (P.L. 117-159), a federal gun safety package that U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) helped pass in 2022. 

Under the final rule – which was first proposed last August and underwent months of public comment and input – the definition of a licensed gun dealer is clarified to require anyone “engaged in the business” of selling guns at a profit – even in an informal setting like a flea market or trade show – to run routine background criminal and mental health checks to determine if a prospective buyer is legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm. 

“Closing the gun show loophole will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.  I was pleased to help pass this bipartisan law and commend President Biden for following through to increase the number of background checks performed.  Congress should take the logical next step and pass universal background checks to better prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands,” said Senator Reed.

There are over 80,000 licensed gun dealers in America, according to the White House and DOJ estimates that there are over 20,000 unlicensed sellers who are selling firearms through online advertisements, gun shows, and other means.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) projects this new rule will apply to tens of thousands of unlicensed gun sales each year.  The new rule is expected to take effect in 30 days.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act included multiple other provisions to reduce gun deaths and keep American communities safe, including Senator Reed’s bipartisan provision with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to support the effective implementation of state red flag laws.  The law set aside $750 million to assist states in creating and administering ‘red flag’ laws and other measures that can keep guns out of the hands of those who are deemed to be an “extreme risk” threat to themselves or others.  Reed also helped successfully include additional language in the law to bolster the 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Hotline and crack down on gun trafficking and straw purchases.