ATF Final Rule Redefines Word ‘Sale’ So that ‘Bartering’ for a Neighbor’s Gun Requires a NICS Check

gun show
George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ATF’s background check rule redefines the word “sale” so that private sellers who receive services or barter in exchange for a gun are required to use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Breitbart News reported the ATF’s announcement of the proposed rule on August 31, 2023. The rule redefines what it means to be “engaged in the business of selling guns,” thereby expanding the instances in which an unlicensed seller — i.e., a private citizen — must use the NICS to sell/transfer a gun.

Much of the rule focuses on guns being sold for “profit,” using degree of profit and frequency of sales to categorize private sellers as persons who must go through NICS to sell/transfer guns.

However, pages 26-27 of the rule equates “pecuniary gain” with “profit,” opening the door for the ATF to redefine the word “sale” so as to require a NICS check when a private seller is “bartering” over a gun.

Beginning with the last paragraph on Page 26 and reading into the first paragraph of page 27, the reader sees clearly that the ATF is defining the terms:  “Defining these terms to include any method of payment for a firearm would clarify that persons cannot avoid the licensing requirement by, for instance, bartering or providing or receiving services in exchange for firearms with the predominant intent to earn pecuniary gain even where no money is exchanged.”

Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice president Alan Gottlieb commented on the ATF rule, saying, “This is a continuation of the Biden war on guns. It is another attempt to get around Congress to make new laws without congressional approval.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio, and a pro-staffer for Pulsar Night Vision. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010 and holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Beef is his favorite vegetable. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at Reach him directly at


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.