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    26 states sue ATF over rule targeting lawful gun owners

    By By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor,


    (The Center Square) – Twenty-six states sued the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Wednesday arguing a new federal rule it's implementing targets lawful gun owners and is unconstitutional and illegal.

    Texas and Kansas led two multi-state coalitions; Florida filed its own lawsuit.

    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.

    President Joe Biden has called for Congress to enact so-called “universal background check” legislation, which would require every private firearms transaction to be regulated by the federal government. Congress, under Democratic and Republican leadership, has repeatedly declined to do so.

    For decades, federal law has distinguished between firearms dealers, who are required to have a federal license to sell firearms, and private individuals who are not required to have a license to purchase and sell firearms privately.

    Claiming the new law as the basis for the rule, the ATF measure would require thousands of law-abiding citizens to register as dealers to buy, sell or trade firearms with friends and neighbors. The Republican attorneys general argue the rule is unconstitutional and burdens citizens with unnecessary costs.

    The Texas coalition includes Louisiana, Missouri, and Utah. Their lawsuit was filed in 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.

    Both lawsuits have gun owners included as plaintiffs.

    “Yet again, Joe Biden is weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to rip up the Constitution and destroy our citizens’ Second Amendment rights,” Paxton said. “This is a dramatic escalation of his tyrannical abuse of authority. With today’s lawsuit, it is my great honor to defend our Constitutionally-protected freedoms from the out-of-control federal government.”

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

    In a separate statement, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said the rule was President Biden’s “latest step in trying to take guns away from law-abiding Americans. We are fighting back against this federal overreach that would force thousands of law-abiding gun owners to register as federal firearms dealers and navigate a federal bureaucracy. It’s unlawful and reflects a lack of respect for our Second Amendment rights. We won’t stand for it.”

    Florida sued in U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida Tampa Division. Its 16-page brief states the rule “goes far beyond the plain text of the BSCA. It purports to force thousands of law-abiding gun owners to register as federal firearms dealers and navigate a federal bureaucracy as a precondition to engaging in constitutionally protected activity. The challenged rule is unlawful…ATF does not have authority to promulgate it because ATF’s rulemaking authority is carefully circumscribed. But even if it did, the challenged rule unlawfully attempts to depart from the plain meaning of the BSCA to achieve President Biden’s policy goals.”

    All three lawsuits name the ATF, the Department of Justice and their respective heads as defendants. They ask the courts to rule that the ATF rule is unlawful and to permanently enjoin the ATF from implementing it.

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