May 23, 2024 – Three Democratic U.S. Representatives, with the endorsement of various anti-gun advocacy groups, have recently introduced a bill, the Stop Arming Cartels Act, that seeks to enact a multitude of new federal firearms laws.  The Act would ban the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of .50 caliber rifles except for government agencies and classify them as “firearms” for purposes of the National Firearms Act. .50 caliber rifles lawfully possessed before the effective date of the Act would be grandfathered, but would have to be registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record within a year, with the registration tax waived. California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have already enacted bans on at least one model of .50 BMG rifles. Unlike the state bans, the Act would not be limited to .50 BMG rifles, but would apply to rifles chambered in any .50 caliber cartridge, including .50 Beowulf, .500 S&W Magnum, and .500 Nitro Express.

The Act would require the transfer of two or more pistols, revolvers, or rifles (or any combination thereof) anywhere in the United States within a five business day period to be reported as a multiple sale.  Currently, federal law only requires a multiple sale report for the transfer of two or more pistols or revolvers within a five business day period anywhere in the United States.  The multiple sale report for rifles applies only to the sale of two or more semi-automatic rifles capable of accepting a detachable magazine with a caliber greater than .22 LR, and only in the four states that border Mexico.

The Act would also create another exception to the federal immunity law that protects firearm industry members from frivolous lawsuits arising from the criminal misuse of firearms and ammunition, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”). The proposed new exception would allow lawsuits against manufacturers and dealers who violate the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (“Kingpin Act”). The Kingpin Act prohibits any “United States person” from conducting business with any designated foreign narcotics traffickers.  Presumably, this anti-gun group of legislators hopes that through the use of abusive litigation, plaintiffs will be able to link legal firearm sales to firearms recovered from narcotics traffickers and seek to use this provision to impose liability on the dealers that sold those firearms. It would also incorporate Kingpin Act designations into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) and prohibit the transfer of firearms to individuals sanctioned under the Kingpin Act.  

The Act is likely to face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor this proposed law and firearms related legislation around the country. If you have any questions concerning firearms related legislation at the state or federal level, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli