Florida Politics

Gaetz Grills ATF Director on Attempts to Criminalize Private Gun Sales


During a recent hearing with the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Director Steven Dettelbach, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) raised serious concerns about new private gun sale regulations. He pointed out that these regulations, which restrict private gun sales, are so vague that they "arbitrarily eviscerate" occasional sellers and fail to provide a clear definition of who is considered a federal firearms dealer.

Rep. Gaetz took to X (formerly Twitter) to express his strong opposition to the ATF's vague restrictions, which are currently under litigation. He didn't just criticize; he called for the organization's abolition, a stance that carries significant weight in the political landscape.

"The ATF is once again trying to create felons out of law-abiding Americans. ATF's new rule attacks private sales in an attempt to bar Americans from legally transferring firearms. It's so over-broad, Director Dettelbach himself can't define it! Congress needs to ABOLISH the ATF!" Rep. Gaetz tweeted.


In the clip, the Florida Congressman begins by noting that the new ruling is 466 pages long and asks where such a hefty ruling defines "how many firearms does someone have to sell to be engaged in the business of firearm dealing?"

Director Dettelbach replied that the definition "is being litigated in several courts" and "the rule itself is 16 pages skipping lines, and there is about, as you see, over 400 pages of explanation." Additionally, he noted Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) raised similar concerns. Still, Gaetz dismissed the comment as irrelevant, saying, "In the House Judiciary Committee, we probably will not look to Senator Cornyn as the oracle of all things gun rights."

Gaetz again tried to get a straight answer about how the average person would be able to know when they would be required to register as a federal firearms dealer if they privately sell firearms. This question prompted Dettelbach to reply, "There is now more information than ever in the form of that rule for specific conduct," and reiterate that the enjoined rule faces litigation in court.

The Florida Congressman noted that a Texas judge [Matthew Kacsmaryk, but Gaetz does not refer to him by name] has pointed out three flaws in the ruling: a lack of a minimum requirement, the fact that it prioritizes the intent to make a profit over the making of a profit itself, and "arbitrarily eviscerates the safe harbor for provision," meaning it does not protect occasional or one-time private sellers of guns.

As a result, Gaetz concluded that the regulation's vagueness was because "you want to make it more difficult for people to engage in the legal, lawful, and constitutionally contemplated manner to transfer firearms, and you are trying to criminalize an entire enterprise, and that is why you see us trying to curtail some of your funding and authorities."

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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