GOA teams up with red state AGs to challenge Biden's "ghost gun" rule

A coalition of 17 Republican Attorneys General are standing side-by-side with Gun Owners of America to take on the Biden administration’s pending rule regarding unfinished and unserialized frames and receivers set to take effect next month.

The AGs of Arizona, West Virginia, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming are all a part of the initial filing with GOA and the Gun Owners Foundation (along with two individual plaintiffs). That’s somewhat unusual, though it’s not uncommon for similar coalitions to file amicus briefs in support of a particular lawsuit. As the AG’s say in the complaint, however, the ATF’s new rule is likely to have a substantial impact on law-abiding citizens in every one of the states they represent.

If allowed to go into effect, the Final Rule will cause significant harm to, or even result in the closure of, numerous businesses that manufacture, distribute, and sell unfinished and unregulated firearm parts, including unfinished firearm parts kits. Indeed, numerous such entities who are represented by the organizational plaintiffs are incorporated, or have their principal place of business, within the plaintiff States. If and when these companies are forced to halt sales or otherwise modify their business practices by implementation of the Final Rule, it is likely (if not certain) that they will be forced to lay off workers, resulting in additional unemployment within the plaintiff States directly caused by the federal government. This will have the effect not only of increasing the amount of public benefits the states must distribute to otherwise willing and able workers whose jobs the Final Rule has eliminated, but also will have the effect of diminishing the States sales and income tax revenues from these businesses and their employees, including that derived from entirely intrastate transactions for items not currently regulated and whose regulation by ATF has not been authorized by Congress.

Such improper regulation by ATF in the Final Rule exceeds not only the agency’s authority under any statute Congress enacted, but also the federal government’s limited constitutional authority under the Interstate Commerce Clause, thus violating the Tenth Amendment. U.S. Const. amend X (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”).

… Additionally, the Final Rule will make it exceedingly harder (if not impossible) for the citizens of the plaintiff States to manufacture their own firearms, conflicting with (and in effect preempting) the more permissive laws of the plaintiff States, thereby undermining the States’ ability to enforce their own legal codes with respect to items and activities that the federal government may not constitutionally regulate. Similarly, the Final rule erects significant barriers to (and thus infringes) the lawful acquisition of protected “arms” within the States, the keeping and bearing of which contributes to “the security of a free State,” including the plaintiff States.

The 161-page brief is exhaustive in its argument and evidence that the ATF and the Biden administration overstepped its bounds in trying to redefine what a firearm is under federal law, and if you have an hour or two of free time it makes for good reading. The complaint lays out several objections to the rule, including that it “adopts a vague, standardless definition of the statutory term “readily,” and applies it to ban 80% frames and receivers,” it creates a new and unlawful record retention policy, and that the ATF has no statutory authority to regulate “privately made guns.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in North Dakota, seeks an injunction barring the rule from taking effect on August 24th. It’ll probably be a few weeks before the judge has the DOJ’s response in hand and issues his decision, but based on the arguments raised here I think there’s a very real chance that Biden’s attempted end-run around Congress gets slapped down by the courts instead of being enforced by the ATF.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET