Gun Laws & Legislation

Republican AGs File Suit Against Biden’s ATF Over Background Check Rule

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Republican Attorneys General Ken Paxton of Texas and Kris Kobach of Kansas announced two related lawsuits against a background check rule imposed by the Biden administration on Wednesday.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives published the rule on April 10, greatly expanding the reach of background checks in firearms sales. Paxton announced the litigation by Texas, other states and Gun Owners of America (GOA) in a Wednesday afternoon post on X, while Kobach filed a separate suit, with each attorney general saying their state sought to protect Second Amendment-protected activities with its suit. (RELATED: David Hogg Gets Lesson About Gun Control From Chinese Immigrant)

“Today, myself and the Attorney General of Kansas announced that we are filing a lawsuit against a new Biden ATF regulation that would subject hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners to presumptions of criminal guilt for engaging in the constitutionally protected private sale of firearms,” Paxton posted.

“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,” Kobach said in a Wednesday release. “This rule is blatantly unconstitutional. We are suing to defend the Second Amendment rights of all Americans.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland hailed the new regulations when announcing them, arguing they would save lives. “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,” said Garland in a Justice Department press release. “This regulation is a historic step in the Justice Department’s fight against gun violence. It will save lives.”

The Biden administration has pushed multiple firearm regulations since the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed in June 2022 following the deadly mass shooting at Ross Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, including an effort to restrict so-called “ghost guns.”

“Criminalizing untold numbers of Americans for simply selling a firearm in a private party transaction is wrong, unconstitutional, and must be halted by the courts,” GOA Vice President Erich Pratt said in a release from Paxton’s office. “Anything less would further encourage this tyrannical administration to continue weaponizing vague statutes into policies that are meant to further harass and intimidate gun owners and dealers at every turn.”

The states of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming are joining the suit by Kansas, according to a release by Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen of Montana.

Louisiana, Utah and Mississippi joined the lawsuit by Texas, according to a release by Paxton’s office.

“The NRA applauds the coalition of States that are boldly challenging the Biden Administration’s rogue ATF, which has relentlessly assailed Second Amendment rights,” NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “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 ATF has exceeded its authority once again, and we expect that this new Rule will be invalidated as well.”

A spokesperson for BATFE declined to comment on the litigation.

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