Skip to content

Shaheen Applauds Justice Department Rule to Close Gun Show Loophole

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today applauded the announcement from the Department of Justice that it was issuing a new rule that will provide clarity on who must obtain a federal firearms license and therefore run background checks when selling firearms, thus helping close the so-called gun show loophole.

“Two years ago, Congress passed, and the President signed into law the most comprehensive gun safety legislation in nearly three decades and today I’m proud that provisions of that law are being implemented to keep guns out of the hands of those who want to do harm. Tragically, mass shootings have become far too common in the United States—it’s horrific and unacceptable. The overwhelming majority of Granite Staters and Americans support expanding background checks, and today’s policy is a step towards responding to the outcry from the American people. There’s still more we can and must do to end the epidemic of gun violence in our country,” said Shaheen.

This rule is part of a provision within the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which Senator Shaheen supported and was signed into law in 2022. Included in this law is language the Senator advocated for to close the “boyfriend loophole” and incentives for states to pass and administer extreme risk protection laws. Regarding today’s final rule, the BSCA directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to broaden the definition of which entities are “engaged in the business” as a dealer in firearms other than gunsmiths or pawnbrokers. The final rule makes clear that entities selling firearms at gun shows or online in most circumstances will be subject to the same requirements that brick-and-mortar vendors must meet. Namely, all qualifying entities must obtain a federal firearms license and any entity with this license must run background checks on potential buyers against the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which flags sales to people prohibited from possessing firearms.

Shaheen is a longstanding advocate for gun violence prevention efforts. Shortly after the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Senator Shaheen met with Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and local gun violence awareness advocates to discuss policies aimed at curbing violence and the need for additional measures to keep communities safe. Shaheen also released a statement in June of 2022 criticizing Governor Sununu and New Hampshire Republicans for their extreme bill – now law in New Hampshire – that prohibits the state from enforcing any federal statute, regulation or Executive Order related to measures to stem the epidemic of gun violence. Shaheen joined a bicameral group of lawmakers to reintroduce Ethan’s Law, legislation that would require gun owners to safely and securely store their firearms. In 2023, Shaheen joined a group of Senate and House Members who wrote the Attorney General and ATF Director, urging the Administration to expedite the issuance of rules on who is “engaged in the business” of firearms sales. In late 2023, Shaheen signed a comment with Senate colleagues in strong support of the ATF’s proposed rule that was finalized today.