FIRST ON FOX: The National Rifle Association lambasted a proposal from the ATF that the gun-rights group says could "unjustly criminalize" Americans for selling a firearm and consequently create "serious confusion" for legal gun owners who engage in firearm transactions.
"The Biden ATF's proposed rule, ATF2022R-17, is just another attempt to demolish our Second Amendment rights, with the potential to unjustly criminalize everyday Americans for engaging in lawful firearm transactions," NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch exclusively told Fox News Digital in a statement.
"This rule blatantly disregards the recent NRA-backed Bruen ruling on the Second Amendment. It also creates serious confusion among lawful gun owners who buy and sell firearms legally for various purposes, from collecting to self-defense."
Kozuch was reacting to the ATF proposal ATF2022R-17, otherwise known as "Definition of ‘Engaged in the Business’ as a Dealer in Firearms," which would amend the agency’s regulations and incorporate provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a gun control law signed by President Biden in 2022.
The proposal would expand the definition of "dealer" to anyone who "sells or offers for sale firearms, and also represents to potential buyers or otherwise demonstrates a willingness and ability to purchase and sell additional firearms." The proposal would also incorporate the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act’s definition of earning a profit from gun sales, meaning a "dealer" would include individuals who sell guns for other forms of profit – such as personal property or services offered – not just cash.
The proposal would subsequently spark confusion among gun owners about which firearm transactions would require a federal firearms license, accordant to the NRA.
"If the Biden administration were truly committed to combating crime, they would focus on enforcing existing laws and reform their soft-on-crime policies, targeting actual criminals instead of law-abiding American gun owners," Kozuch continued in his statement to Fox News Digital.
Following the House and Senate’s approval, Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law in June 2022, which was championed by gun-control activists as the most significant firearm legislation in nearly 30 years. The law incentivized states to implement red flag laws and expand background checks for 18- to 21-year-olds.
The ATF’s proposal was introduced in August this year and was open for a 90-day comment period from Sept. 9 to Dec. 7. The NRA was one of more than 330,000 groups and individuals who posted public comments about the proposed rule, detailing in their response that the proposal would spread confusion for gun owners, notably collectors and competitive shooters who frequently purchase and sell firearms.
"Many NRA members buy and sell firearms for various lawful purposes. Collectors buy and sell to enhance their collections. Competitive shooters buy and sell in search of a competitive advantage. And all exercise their right to buy and sell firearms, seeking arms that best fit their needs to defend themselves and their families. But their freedom to do so is hindered by ATF2022R-17 (the ‘proposed rule’) because it would create serious confusion about what firearm transactions can be conducted without first acquiring an FFL," the NRA’s comment states.
Republican Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen led a coalition of 26 attorneys general on Dec. 7 in a letter to the ATF, slamming the proposal’s "shocking and unconstitutional attack" on the Second Amendment.
"The proposed rule is unconstitutional, violating the Second Amendment by making any individual who sells a firearm without a federal license liable to civil, administrative, or even criminal penalties," Knudsen’s office said in a press release last week.
"In America, it should be legal for a family member to sell a firearm to another family member without risk of prosecution. But the exception is flawed," the Knudsen-led letter states. "Reading the exception, one can conclude that if a family member sells another family member a firearm for as little as one dollar more than the original purchase price, that seller could be open to civil, administrative, or criminal liability. That absurdity risks hurting innocent people and chilling law-abiding behavior."
The NRA applauded the Montana Republican and the coalition of AGs for "truly honoring their oath to office."
"NRA members appreciate Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and the coalition of 26 attorneys general, who, unlike Joe Biden, are truly honoring their oath of office by actively fighting against this rule. The NRA is resolutely committed to fighting this ill-advised rule at every turn, safeguarding our constitutional rights from such blatant federal intrusion," Kozuch said.
The ATF and White House did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the NRA’s statement.