May 26, 2024

In a remarkable move, 26 states have launched a legal counterattack against the Biden administration’s assault on the Second Amendment. The states filed lawsuits against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Justice Department on Wednesday.

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At the heart of the matter is a new ATF rule finalized on April 19, 2023, that requires thousands of law-abiding gun owners to register as firearms dealers. The rule derives from the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a federal anti-gunner law passed in the aftermath of one of several high-profile mass shootings:

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

The announcement was the first time Paxton has held a press conference about official state business since he was impeached last year. Paxton was the first Texas attorney general to be impeached in state history after 60 Texas House Republicans voted to impeach him on 20 counts. He was acquitted by the Senate last September.

The states sued the ATF and the Department of Justice and their effective heads over a new ATF rule the Biden administration finalized on April 19. The administration argues the rule is implementing aspects of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act spearheaded by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

The lawsuit is being filed by two coalitions led by Texas and Kansas.

The Texas coalition includes Louisiana, Missouri, and Utah. Their lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas Amarillo Division:

The Kansas coalition includes 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. Their lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas Delta Division.

Paxton framed the legal battle as a fight to defend constitutional freedoms, stating, “Yet again, Joe Biden is weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to rip up the Constitution and destroy our citizens’ Second Amendment Rights.”

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President Joe Biden has relied on the ATF to advance his anti-gunner agenda due to failed attempts to get Congress to pass the radical anti-gunner legislation he promised on the campaign trail. This is the reason why the administration seeks to redefine who qualifies as a firearms dealer. It would require those who sell only a few guns per year to register, undergo background checks, and maintain records. These are requirements typically reserved for commercial dealers.

The ATF’s rule is a prime example of constitutional overreach of executive power, and a violation of the Second Amendment. It is a brazen effort to make it harder for people to keep and bear arms.

Moreover, requiring individuals to register as firearms dealers involves not only federal oversight but would place an unnecessary financial burden on these folks. From licensing fees to potential penalties for non-compliance, it is clear the rule is intended to discourage people from selling their personal firearms.

The complexity of the world of selling firearms is already difficult enough to navigate. This rule will only make it worse. As Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach highlighted: “Biden’s latest attempt to strip away the Second Amendment rights of Americans through ATF regulations will make many law-abiding gun owners felons if they sell a firearm or two to family or friends.”

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Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody also chimed in, slamming the rule for its potential to “force thousands of law-abiding gun owners to navigate a federal bureaucracy as a precondition to engaging in constitutionally protected activity.”

As the lawsuits progress, they will highlight not only the rule in question, but also the larger debate over the push to use federal executive power to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. We’ll keep you posted on any developments.

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