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Pascrell, Colleagues Introduce Federal Firearm Licensee Act

Today, U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), Robin L. Kelly (D-IL-02), David Cicilline (D-RI-01), Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Joe Morelle (D-NY-25), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19) intrdouced the Federal Firearm Licensee Act. This legislation, first introduced in 2021 would update sections in the U.S. Code directed at federal firearms licensees (FFLs) that have not been updated in 30 years. The current rules insulate rogue firearms dealers who engage in unlawful practices from enforcement action and frustrate law enforcement efforts to curb gun trafficking and violence in our communities. This legislation would address those outdated provisions and has been endorsed by Everytown, Brady, Giffords, Moms Demand Action, and March for our Lives.

The federal government’s current approach to governing licensed firearm dealers is inadequate to meet the business, technological and cultural realities of the 21st century. The bill modernizes regulations for existing FFLs by:

  • Requiring physical security measures to prevent firearm theft.
  • Clarifies the standards by which licensed dealers, and their employees, are assessed for purposes of license issuance and renewal.
  • Repeals long-standing Appropriations Riders that have impeded enforcement of existing law by barring the ATF from using funds to require licensed dealers to conduct physical firearm inventories and prohibiting the public disclosure of firearms trace data.
  • Increases record retention and electronic data management and sharing for background checks.
“Americans are appalled at the state of crime gun tracing in America today,” said Rep. Pascrell, co-chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus. “Because of an anachronistic law imposed at the behest of the NRA, the ATF is literally banned from using computers to trace firearms used in crimes. Our simple change in this legislation, based on my Crime Gun Tracing Modernization Act, will help prevent crime, will save lives, and will create needed efficiency by finally bringing ATF crime gun tracing into the 21st century. After decades of being hamstrung by extremist NRA policies, the ATF must be given the authority to do its job. I thank Congresswoman Kelly for leading the way to finally enacting the commonsense firearms reform Americans cry out for every day.”

“Illegally sold and acquired guns account for more than 50% of the firearms used to commit crimes in Chicago. This is unacceptable,” said Rep. Kelly. “A lot has changed in the last 30 years, including how many people acquire guns. It is long past time to bring our gun trafficking laws into the 21st century to ensure that our government can adequately respond to the epidemic of gun violence and keep our communities safe. This legislation provides a commonsense approach to ensure that FFLs do not unwittingly provide safe harbor to those illegally trafficking guns into our neighborhoods.”

“There are far too many loopholes in our current background check system. This package will help ensure that all licensed firearms dealers are playing by the rules, and that our laws are keeping up with current technology,” said Rep. Cicilline. “We cannot allow the continuation of unregulated sales of firearms to people who are not meant to own guns under our current laws. I’m proud that this bill includes provisions of my bill, the Fire Sale Loophole Closing Act, to prevent gun dealers who lose their licenses from converting their unsold firearms to personal inventory, which then enables them to then sell this inventory without conducting background checks. I thank and applaud my friend and colleague Congresswoman Kelly for her work on this vital bill.”

"Illegal gun trafficking is a major contributor to the epidemic that is gun violence in America,” said Rep. Lee. “With this legislation—which includes my bill to remove the Tiahrt restrictions so the ATF can better collect and report key data to tackle gun trafficking—we can take a step forward in preventing the illicit flow of guns into our communities by closing loopholes in the background check process and holding rogue dealers accountable. I applaud my colleague Congresswoman Kelly for her leadership on this issue, and urge my colleagues to support this bill, put people over politics, and give ATF the tools they need to fight gun violence.”

“We are clearly facing an epidemic of gun violence in our country—but licensed gun dealers are still not required to take basic precautions to stop these dangerous weapons from falling into the wrong hands,” said Rep. Morelle. “I have long been an advocate for action to hold firearms dealers accountable for their role in gun trafficking, and I'm proud to sponsor this legislation which includes provisions of my Gun Theft Prevention Act. I appreciate this opportunity to work with my colleagues towards reaching our shared goal of stopping gun violence.”

“Our outdated federal firearm licensing laws aren’t keeping pace with the proliferation of rogue firearms dealers or advancements in new technology,” said Rep. Panetta.  “I’m proud to work with Rep. Kelly to introduce legislation to improve our system of background checks and ensure proper dealer licensing for firearm purchases.  This bill is a comprehensive, common-sense way to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands and keep Americans safe.”

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