At Townhall: Biden Is Destroying the Firearm’s Industry

Feb 29, 2024 | op-ed

Dr. John Lott has a new op-ed at Townhall.

The Biden administration is driving gun dealers out of business and radically transforming the firearms industry. Unfortunately, President Biden is only getting started, and four more years of these policies will have truly detrimental impacts on the ability of people to buy guns for self-defense.

Biden sold his  “zero tolerance” policy as going after “rogue gun dealers” who “knowingly” sell guns to violent criminals. Of course, no one wants dealers secretly selling guns to criminals out of the back of their stores. But Biden’s zero-tolerance policy isn’t about that. Instead, it makes trivial and inconsequential paperwork errors into grounds for losing one’s license and going out of business. 

Tom Harris of the Sporting Arms Co. in Lewisville, Texas, is a disabled father of five who made two small paperwork mistakes fifteen and sixteen years ago. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF) during the Obama administration cleared Harris, who has made a single paperwork mistake since then. But now, the Biden administration is reopening closed cases, including Harris’s. Harris had to create a crowdfunding page to cover his legal costs.

By the middle of last year, Biden’s zero-tolerance for paperwork typos had put nearly two thousand dealers out of business.

It’s not the only policy that is making life difficult for gun sellers. A gun dealer must comply with new, costly reporting requirements if he has sold at least 25 guns that were traced to crimes committed over a year. The guns traced were purchased within the past three years.  This doesn’t even require that the guns were used in a crime, only that the BAFT traced them.

However, identifying gun stores based on the number of guns traced is problematic. It is one thing for a store that sold 50 guns to have 25 guns traced. It is entirely different for a store that sold ten thousand guns to have 25 tracks. Identifying stores based on the percentage of crime guns, not the total number of traced guns, makes much more sense.

 The Biden administration has publicly released the list of these stores, presumably to give negative publicity. Unsurprisingly, the 1,300 outlets targeted in 2023 by the BATF include the largest firearms dealers – Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Scheels, Rural King, and Sportsman’s Warehouse. Large gun stores in higher-crime areas are more prone to fall victim to the new policy through no fault of their own. 

The new detailed reporting requirements might create costs that cause some stores to stop selling guns. If that isn’t enough, Biden may hope that publicly demonizing stores will cause them to stop selling guns.

At the same time that Biden is driving gun dealers out of business, he is proposing other regulations that will force everyone who transfers or sells guns to be a licensed firearms dealer. The BATF released a 150-page proposal last year that would require you to have a licensed dealer if you sell a friend a gun once and then even discuss the sale of a second gun. Or if you sell one gun and keep any record of what it was bought and sold for. Or, for that matter, if you rent a space at a gun show without selling any firearms (anyone who has been to a gun show knows that most tables aren’t selling guns).

Leaked information reports the BATF’s proposal has ballooned to 1,300 pages and effectively bans private gun sales. One can only imagine how much more complicated these rules will be.

These rules will only make Americans less able to afford protection, as guns will become increasingly expensive amidst so many regulatory obstacles. The rich won’t have a problem buying firearms, but many low-income people who are the most likely victims of violent crime will be left vulnerable.

On top of all that, Biden has re-imposed Obama’s policy of pressuring Banks from doing business with “high-risk” industries, reviving what was called “Operation Choke Point.”

It’s clear that Biden is working hard to stop Americans from owning guns, and that he is destroying many law-abiding businesses.

John R. Lott, Jr., “Biden Is Destroying the Firearm’s Industry,” Townhall, February 29, 2024.