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Biden's ATF Director Confused After Chip Roy Grills Him Over Background Check Rule

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Steve Dettelbach was unable to answer questions about a background check rule enacted by the Biden administration during a hearing Thursday.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas pressed Dettelbach on the rule Thursday audition of the House Judiciary Committee entitled “Oversight of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.” Roy asked Dettelbach questions about the rule announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland on April 10, asking the ATF director how many firearms would have to be sold before someone had a federal firearms license (FFL).

“If I want to sell a gun I currently own to a friend in Texas, do I need a license?” Roy asked Dettelbach.

“So getting into the specifics of the paper, which is in litigation …,” Dettelbach said before Roy interrupted the ATF director, saying, “That should be a very simple question.”


“I understand,” Dettelbach replied, “So look at the totality of the circumstances. If we're talking about an isolated sale by someone who isn't in the business of dealing in firearms, you don't need a license.” .

Under 18 USC 922(a)only individuals with an FFL can engage in the sale of firearms as a business.

“So if I, a citizen of this country, live in Texas, own a gun and want to sell it to another Texan, in isolation, do I need a license?” Roy asked.

“Again, yes, if you are not in the business of selling firearms, these are the words of Congress . . .”

Roy interrupted to describe another hypothetical situation, where a person sells firearms from time to time.

“I think, consistent with the clear language of Congress, in doing this and with the things we said in the rule, we specifically mention inheritance as one of the things that is not indicative of engaging in business,” he said. Dettelbach said.

Roy pressed Dettelbach for further clarification

“It's very clear that you look at the totality of the circumstances,” Dettelbach said. “We can go through an endless series of hypotheticals. Hypotheticals are not like us . . .”

“Do you understand why the average citizen sitting out there, saying, 'I've got four hundred pages of regulations, maybe they don't understand what they can do under the law when the director of ATF can't look at a member of Congress?' and tell me yes or no emphatically whether or not I sell one gun or two guns or three guns or five, if I need a license or not? Roy asked after interrupting Dettelbach.

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