Definition of “Engaged in the Business” as a Dealer in Firearms

Firearm and pen placed on top of firearms transaction record form

On August 30, 2023, the Attorney General signed ATF’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) 2022R-17, “Definition of ‘Engaged in the Business’ as a Dealer in Firearms," which proposes to amend ATF’s regulations to implement the provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), enacted on June 25, 2022. 

The NPRM proposes to incorporate the BSCA’s definition “predominantly earn a profit,” creating a stand-alone definition of “terrorism,” and amending the definitions of “principal objective of livelihood and profit” and “engaged in the business” to ensure each conforms with the BSCA’s statutory changes and can be relied upon by the public. 

Furthermore, the NPRM specifically proposes to clarify when a person is “engaged in the business” as a dealer in firearms at wholesale or retail by:

  • Clarifying the definition of “dealer” and defining the terms “purchase” and “sale” as they apply to dealers;
  • Clarifying when a person would not be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms as an auctioneer, or when purchasing firearms for, and selling firearms from, a personal collection;
  • Setting forth conduct that is presumed to constitute “engaging in the business” of dealing in firearms, and presumed to demonstrate the intent to “predominantly earn a profit” from the sale or disposition of firearms, absent reliable evidence to the contrary;
  • Clarifying that the intent to “predominantly earn a profit” does not require the person to have received pecuniary gain and that intent does not have to be shown when a person purchases or sells a firearm for criminal or terrorism purposes;
  • Adding a single definition for the term “personal collection, personal collection of firearms, or personal firearms collection” and adding a definition for the term “responsible person”;
  • Addressing how former licensees, and responsible persons acting on behalf of former licensees, may lawfully liquidate business inventory upon revocation or other termination of their license; and
  • Clarifying that licensees must follow the verification and recordkeeping procedures in 27 CFR 478.94 and Subpart H, rather than using an ATF Form 4473 when firearms are transferred to other licensees, including transfers by a licensed sole proprietor to that person’s personal collection.

On September 8, the NPRM published in the Federal Register, and is open for a 90-day comment period that closes December 7, 2023.

Read the NPRM on Federal Register.

What Do You Need to Know?

  • The NPRM will be open for a 90-day comment period once it is published in the Federal Register.  View the notice of proposed rulemaking for Definition of "Engaged as a Business" a Dealer in Firearms; Comment period is open from September 9 - December 7, 2023. 
    • Note that comments will be posted within a few days of being submitted.  However, if large volumes of comments are being processed simultaneously, your comment may not be viewable for up to several weeks.  Please keep the comment tracking number that is provided after you have successfully uploaded your comment.
  • Mail: Refer to Section IV “Public Participation” of the NPRM for information on how to submit a comment by mail. 
    • Note that hand-delivered comments will not be accepted.

Refer to the Federal Rulemaking Process infographic to understand the federal rulemaking process.

Related Resources and Background Information

Contact Information

  • For technical issues related to submitting a comment online at regulations.gov, you will need to contact the administrators of regulations.gov for assistance. Contact the helpdesk and create a support ticket.
  • For media or congressional inquiries, contact the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs. Information can be found on the Media and Congressional Contacts webpage.
  • For questions regarding the rulemaking process, contact the Office of Regulatory Affairs at ORA@atf.gov.
Last Reviewed February 27, 2024