GOP-Led States File Motion to Block New ATF Gun Ow

Gun Rights

Four Republican-led states have filed a motion with a court in Texas seeking to prevent a controversial new rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from going into effect.

The states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Utah filed the motion in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas on May 9 calling on the court to block the new rule redefining who is “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms.

The rule, which was submitted by the ATF in April, is set to go into effect on May 20.

“Although purporting to update federal regulations to align with recently amended federal firearms statutes, the regulations promulgated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) of the U.S. Department of Justice on April 19, 2024, entitled ‘Definition of ‘Engaged in the Business’ as a Dealer in Firearms’ go far beyond the subtle change Congress made to the law,” the states wrote in their filing with the court.

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“Instead, they subject hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners to presumptions of criminal guilt for all manner of innocuous activities related to the statutorily authorized and constitutionally protected private sale of firearms,” the states continued.

“Moreover, in an obvious attempt to preclude timely judicial review, Defendants have accelerated the effective date of their latest edict to a mere 30 days from publication in the Federal Register, contrary to past practice,” they added.

The motion by the Republican-led states came after U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland signed the ATF’s final rule amending the definition of exactly who is “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms on April 10.

New Rule Will Save Lives, Attorney General Says

The change to the rule was required under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) enacted on June 25, 2022, which broadened the definition of when a person is considered “engaged in the business” as a dealer in firearms.

Specifically, the new 466-page rule conforms with the BSCA’s statutory changes and clarifies that the sole requirement for determining whether a person is engaged in the business of selling guns is whether the individual is trading to “predominantly earn a profit” as opposed to earning a “livelihood.”

Attorney General Garland said in an April 10 press release that the change to the rule would save lives by requiring those who “devote time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business or predominantly earn a profit through the repetitive purchase and sale of firearms” to obtain a federal firearms license.

“Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the internet, at a gun show, or at a brick-and-mortar store: if you sell guns predominantly to earn a profit, you must be licensed, and you must conduct background checks,” the Attorney General added.

The final rule clarifies that definition, he said.

However, critics of the change fear the rule could impact private transactions, and potentially create problems when it comes to the inheritance of firearms within families.

In their motion with the court on May 9, the four states further argued that the new rule violates the Fourth Amendment under the U.S. Constitution by granting the ATF the authority to enter any licensed dealer’s premises to inspect records and documents, or firearms.

“By requiring untold thousands of gun owners to seek licensure in order to avoid criminal liability when selling portions of their personal collections, the Rule unconstitutionally subjects all these new, home-based licensees to the GCA’s warrantless inspection regime,” the states wrote.

“Because of the urgency created by Defendants own actions, and because the new regulations threaten to turn otherwise law-abiding Americans into felons overnight, Plaintiffs seek a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction to preserve the status quo and prevent Defendants from enforcing the Rule against lawful gun owners and collectors,” the states continued.

“If a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction is not granted, the Rule will become effective on May 20, 2024,” they concluded.

More States Sue Over Rule

The motion comes after a series of other states, including Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Garland, the ATF, and its director, Steven Dettelbach, seeking to block the new rule from going into effect.

That lawsuit, filed on May 1, argues that the right to keep and bear arms is “central to our country’s history and traditions” and therefore Congress must “be careful when addressing that right through federal legislation.”

Plaintiffs in that lawsuit called on the court to invalidate the rule under the Administrative Procedure Act, claiming the ATF exceeded its authority by redefining various terms in federal law. They also argued the rule violates the right to sell arms and is too vague, noting that the “average person reading the Final Rule would not be able to determine whether his or her conduct is lawful.”

The National Rifle Association (NRA) welcomed the lawsuits in a statement earlier this month in which it praised the states for “boldly challenging the Biden Administration’s rogue ATF, which has relentlessly assailed Second Amendment rights.”

“Undeterred by having three of its most recent Rules restricting gun rights invalidated by federal courts, the ATF’s new Rule restricts Americans’ rights to sell even a single firearm,” the association said.

“The ATF has exceeded its authority once again, and we expect that this new Rule will be invalidated as well,” it added.

The Epoch Times has contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for comment.

From The Epoch Times

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