Nolan Stout

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Justice Department has finalized regulations to strengthen background check requirements for gun sales and crack down on unlicensed firearms dealers.

The regulation, which was finalized Thursday, strengthens the definition of people who are “engaged in the business” of selling firearms and are thus required to conduct a background check. It will include people who sell numerous firearms within 30 days of their purchase, sell guns that are in their original packaging and offer multiple firearms of the same make and model. It also includes formerly federally licensed firearms dealers who sell guns that were in their business inventory and not transferred to a personal collection within a year of the sale.

Beyond the act of selling guns, the law requires background checks for people who create a website or make business cards related to a firearms business, maintain records to document and track profits and losses in guns sales, purchase business insurance or rent space at a gun show.

“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,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “This regulation is a historic step in the Justice Department’s fight against gun violence. It will save lives.”

The regulation is not a universal background check law, but is part of the Biden administration’s push to get as close as possible without new congressional action. As part of an executive order President Joe Biden signed in March 2023, Garland was directed to revise the statutory definition of who is “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms and thus must conduct background checks.

The White House has said that the regulation would not apply to people selling a gun to a family member and buying or selling curios, relics and collectible personal firearms as a hobby. The proposal adds a definition of “personal firearms collection” to clarify a difference between hobbyists and collectors who want to liquidate their collections.

Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the regulation seeks to protect “the lives of innocent, law-abiding Americans as well as the rule of law.”

“There is a large and growing black market of guns that are being sold by people who are in the business of dealing and are doing it without a license; and therefore, they are not running background checks the way the law requires,” he said. “And it is fueling violence.”

According to the nonpartisan Gun Violence Archive, 4,392 people have died of firearm-related causes so far in 2024. The database reported at least 106 mass shootings so far this year, which are defined as shootings with at least four people injured or killed in a single incident.

A senior administration official said 23,000 unlicensed gun dealers would be impacted by the regulation and regulators expect it to face court challenges.

“We are confident we have followed the law and this rule will withstand court challenge,” they said.

The regulation will go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.