Federal Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Biden Gun Rule

AP Photo/Dave Collins, File

The Biden administration’s war on the Second Amendment faced a significant setback after a judge temporarily blocked a federal rule in four states mandating that people selling guns online and at gun shows conduct background checks on customers.

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U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a preliminary injunction against the rule on Tuesday. He ruled that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is not allowed to enforce the measures in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Utah.

The injunction also prohibits the ATF from enforcing the rule against gun rights organizations such as Gun Owners of America, Tennessee Firearms Association, and others.

The judge, in his ruling, argued that the Biden administration’s rule exceeded the ATF’s lawful authority and violated the Constitution. He noted that the measure conflicts with the text of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA).

He asserted that people who occasionally sell their firearms at gun shows or online should not be treated the same as commercial gun sellers. 

“The term ‘engaged in the business’ means…as applied to a dealer in firearms…a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business to predominantly earn a profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms.”

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Kacsmaryk also contended that the rule essentially reverses the burden of proof, requiring gun buyers to prove their innocence rather than the government proving guilt, which conflicts with the principle of due process, writing: 

"The presumptions are highly problematic for at least two reasons. First, they flip the statute on its head by requiring that firearm owners prove innocence rather than the government prove guilt.”

Lastly, the judge pointed out that the rule arbitrarily attacks the safe harbor provisions laid out in Section 921(a)(21)C of the BSCA, which protect those who make occasional gun sales for personal collections or hobby purposes.

"Nothing in the statutory text suggests that the term 'personal collection' does not include firearms accumulated primarily for personal protection,” he wrote.

The judge noted that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the Biden administration “understandably fear that these presumptions will trigger civil or criminal penalties for conduct deemed lawful just yesterday."

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton lauded the ruling, announcing that the lawsuit “secured an injunction against Biden’s unlawful ATF rule that would criminalize the private sale of guns.”

“I’m proud to fight and win for our Second Amendment rights,” he added.

The Biden administration rule still remains in effect for the rest of the country, pending other legal challenges. The White House will likely appeal Kacsmaryk’s ruling, but the injunction will remain in effect until the court makes a final ruling on the matter.

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