Sen. Cornyn’s Expanded Gun “Dealer” Definition Mimics Failed Obama Backdoor Universal Background Checks

President Obama Wanted to Regulate Anyone Who Sold Even One Gun

In the last days of his Presidency, President Obama issued an executive action[i] to expand the definition of a gun “dealer”[ii] to:

  • Restrict private transfers of firearms under the guise of the so-called loopholes “online and at gun shows;”[iii]
  • Prosecute those who sell even as many as one firearm unless they obtained a Federal Firearms License;[iv]
  • Punishing this otherwise lawful behavior with “up to five years in prison and fine[s] up to $250,000.”[v]

The Fake Gun Show and Online “Loopholes”

There is not any special provision allowing for someone engaged in the business of dealing firearms to sell a gun without a background check at a gun show or online. Private transfers have always been exempted from background checks under federal law, but gun dealers and other Federal Firearms Licensees must conduct background checks on all sales.[vi]

Private Gun Sales SHOULD NOT Require Licenses

President Obama sought to prosecute law-abiding private transfers “when as few as two firearms were sold or when only one or two transactions took place, when other factors also were present.”[vii]

Since gun stores and licensed dealers at gun shows are already required to have licenses and conduct background checks, the Obama Administration was targeting something else: lawful private transfers. Such activity remains legal in all but fourteen states but would be criminalized under President Obama’s proposed expansion of the definition of a gun “dealer.” Any changes to this definition are significant to gun owners and their right to privately transfer, sell, and receive firearms.

Obama’s Backdoor Universal Background Checks Had a Chilling Effect on Lawful Transfers

Obama wanted to prosecute gun owners who engaged in otherwise law-abiding firearm transfers and punish them with up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.[viii] If you did not get a license and conduct a background check before selling even one firearm, you could be prosecuted by the Obama Administration. This is why expanding the scope of the definition of a gun “dealer” could lead to universal background checks, which will lead to gun confiscations. This threat resulted in a chilling effect on private firearm transfers during the final days of the Obama Administration.

No More Background Checks or Expanded Definitions Until ATF’s Illegal Gun Registry is Eliminated

The goal of the anti-gun movement may be to turn all private citizens who sell their guns into FFLs, restricting your ability to conduct private gun transfers without being recorded in the ATF’s illegal national federal registry. Remember, the ATF already has a database of nearly one billion gun and gun owner records in a database in West Virginia.

It is unconscionable that Congress would universalize or expand the background check system when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has exploited and abused it for the creation of a near-billion record gun registry in violation of one federal statute and two appropriations act restrictions.[ix]

This GOA Fact Sheet was circulated on Capitol Hill beginning on June 15th, 2022.

[i] Office of the Press Secretary. FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer. 2016.

[ii] 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(11).

[iii] Office of the Press Secretary. FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer. 2016.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Johnston. ATF’s Illegal Gun Owner Registry. 2022.