ATF Rule Requires Smugglers to Get NICS Checks on Gun Sales

Some of the weapons Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami and its law enforcement p
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The ATF’s background check rule changes the definition of the word “dealer” to now include people who smuggle guns into other countries for the purpose of selling them, therefore requiring said smugglers to avail themselves of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks.

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 or transfer a gun.

The rule largely centers on guns being sold for “profit,” however, on pages 26-27 it 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.

On page 194 of the 466-page rule, the ATF makes clear that people who smuggle guns out of the country in order to sell them abroad now fall under the “dealer” category.

From the rule:

Unlicensed persons who purchase firearms in the United States and smuggle or take them out of the United States (or conspire or attempt to do so) for sale in another country would be violating 18 U.S.C. 924(k)(2)(B), among other provisions of U.S. law. This is not conduct “wholly outside the United States,”…Accordingly, this rule now clarifies in the definition of “dealer” that purchases or sales of firearms as a wholesale or retail dealer may occur “at any other domestic or international public or private marketplace or premise.”

The ATF even took time to defend the inclusion of smugglers in the definition of “dealers”:

The Department disagrees that the rule seeks to assert extraterritorial jurisdiction in excess of statutory authority by referencing “international marketplaces” in the definition of “dealer.” The statutory prohibition at 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(1)(A) makes it unlawful for unlicensed persons “to ship, transport, or receive any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce.” Including “international” marketplaces in the definition of “dealer” is consistent with Congress’s intent to regulate unlicensed sales in “foreign” commerce.

Once smugglers are officially labeled as dealers, they are required to perform all the duties that pertain to that categorization, and that includes NICS checks.

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


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