26 states file lawsuit against ATF over regulation impacting legal gun owners

Twenty-six states have filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), claiming that a new federal rule being implemented by the agency unfairly targets law-abiding gun owners. The states argue that this rule is both unconstitutional and illegal.

Texas and Kansas took the lead in forming coalitions with multiple states, while Florida initiated its own lawsuit.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach revealed their multi-state coalitions during a joint press conference in Frisco, Texas, on Wednesday.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made headlines recently as he held a press conference addressing official state matters. This event marked the first time he had engaged with the media on such matters since his impeachment last year. Notably, Paxton holds the distinction of being the first Texas attorney general to face impeachment in the state’s history. Following the impeachment, he was ultimately acquitted by the Senate in September.

The ATF and the Department of Justice, along with their effective heads, faced lawsuits from the states regarding a newly finalized ATF rule on April 19. The Biden administration contends that the rule is an implementation of certain provisions from the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act led by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

President Joe Biden is urging Congress to pass legislation known as “universal background checks,” which would mandate federal government regulation of all private firearms transactions. Despite previous refusals from both Democratic and Republican-led Congresses, President Biden is pushing for this measure to enhance gun control measures.

For many years, there has been a clear distinction in federal law between firearms dealers, who must hold a federal license in order to sell firearms, and private individuals who are not obligated to obtain a license for private firearm transactions.

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The new law is being used as the foundation for the rule, which would compel numerous law-abiding citizens to register as dealers in order to engage in firearm transactions with their friends and neighbors. Republican attorneys general assert that this rule is unconstitutional and imposes unnecessary financial burdens on citizens.

The Texas coalition, consisting of Louisiana, Missouri, and Utah, has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas Amarillo Division.

The coalition of states involved in the lawsuit consists of Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. They have filed their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas Delta Division.

Gun owners are included as plaintiffs in both lawsuits.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton strongly criticized Joe Biden for using the federal bureaucracy to undermine the Constitution and infringe on the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. Paxton condemned this as an alarming and tyrannical abuse of power. He expressed his resolve to defend the Constitution and protect the freedoms of the people by filing a lawsuit against the overreaching actions of the federal government.

Kobach strongly opposes Biden’s recent efforts to restrict the Second Amendment rights of American citizens through ATF regulations. He argues that these regulations would unfairly criminalize law-abiding gun owners who sell firearms to family members or close friends. According to Kobach, this rule clearly violates the Constitution, and he is taking legal action to protect the Second Amendment rights of all Americans.

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Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a statement expressing her opposition to the rule, stating that it is President Biden’s attempt to disarm law-abiding citizens. She emphasized that they are fighting against this federal overreach that would require law-abiding gun owners to register as federal firearms dealers and navigate through unnecessary bureaucratic processes. According to Moody, this rule is not only unlawful but also shows a disregard for the Second Amendment rights of the American people. She made it clear that they will not tolerate such actions.

Florida has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida Tampa Division, arguing against a rule that exceeds the scope of the BSCA. In its 16-page brief, the state contends that the rule attempts to compel law-abiding gun owners to register as federal firearms dealers and navigate a federal bureaucracy, which infringes upon their constitutionally protected rights. The state asserts that the rule is unlawful, emphasizing that the ATF lacks the authority to enact such a regulation. Furthermore, even if the ATF had the authority, the rule unlawfully deviates from the clear intent of the BSCA in order to align with President Biden’s policy objectives.

The three lawsuits have been filed against the ATF, the Department of Justice, and their respective leaders as defendants. The main objective of these legal actions is to challenge the legality of the ATF rule and seek a permanent injunction to prevent its implementation.

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