As part of ongoing efforts to combat gun violence in the United States, President Joe Biden’s administration said Wednesday that it will establish “zero tolerance” for “rogue” gun dealers who violate federal law, threatening to revoke licenses as governors across the U.S. declare their states “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” passing legislation that attempts to nullify federal gun laws.
The administration said it will implement “zero tolerance for rogue gun dealers that willfully violate the law,” allowing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to revoke federal firearms licenses the first time a dealer goes against federal law, including transferring guns to prohibited individuals, failing to run a background check, falsifying records, failing to respond to an ATF tracing request and refusing to permit ATF to conduct an inspection in violation of the law.
“Gun dealers across the country are regulated by federal law that is enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Dealers that fail to comply with their obligations under the law create risks for all of us,” the administration said in a statement.
“In addition, ATF will notify every firearms dealer whose license is revoked about how to lawfully transfer any remaining inventory, as well as the potential criminal consequences of continuing to engage in the business of buying and selling guns without a license,” the statement continued. “The prior Administration stopped this important notification practice that helps deter future unlawful activity.”
The administration also called on Congress to increase funding for the ATF in order to hire additional personnel so the bureau can “increase the number of inspections and enforcement actions.”
In the meantime with its “existing, limited resources,” the ATF will work to better coordinate “with state and local officials with on-the-ground knowledge of which dealers are supplying firearms that show up at crime scenes.”
“ATF has designated a specific point of contact in every field division for mayors, police chiefs, or other local leaders to report concerns about particular dealers’ compliance with the law,” the statement said.
Through trainings and guidance, the bureau also said it will “make clear to investigators in every field division” that inspection priorities should be made based on “the extent to which firearms sold by the dealer are later used in criminal activity, the time between the sale of a firearm and its use in a crime, the number of recoveries associated with shootings, domestic violence, and other violent offenses.”
“This data-driven prioritization will allow ATF to target its limited inspection resources to ensure compliance with federal law,” the administration wrote.
The “zero tolerance” policy comes as states across the country pass laws attempting to nullify federal gun laws. In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson signed into law House Bill 85, allowing state gun laws to overrule federal gun laws and making law enforcement liable if an officer violates an Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
“HB 85 puts those in Washington D.C. on notice that here in Missouri we support responsible, law-abiding gun owners, and that we oppose government overreach and any unlawful efforts to limit our access to firearms,” Gov. Parson said in a statement.
In Montana, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed H.B. 258 prohibiting Montana’s state and local law enforcement from enforcing, implementing or spending state funds to uphold federal bans on firearms, ammunition and magazines.
“Today, I proudly signed Rep. Hinkle’s law prohibiting federal overreach into our Second Amendment-protected rights, including any federal ban on firearms,” Gianforte tweeted. “I will always protect our #2A right to keep and bear arms.”
However, earlier this month, the Justice Department warned state officials that they can’t ignore federal law, The Associated Press reported.
In a letter obtained by the AP, Justice officials wrote that the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause outweighs Gov. Parson’s “second amendment sanctuary” law.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said the state’s law would disrupt cooperation between federal and local authorities. “The public safety of the people of the United States and citizens of Missouri is paramount,” Boynton wrote.