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Multiple States File Suit Against ATF’s “Engaged in the Business” Rule

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A gavel, scales of justice, and law books.

On May 1, a consortium of States, along with Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the ATFs (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) recently finalized “Engaged in the business” rule.

The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Texas against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and ATF Director Steven Dettelbach. The Tennessee Firearms Association joined the States of Texas (lead plaintiff), Louisiana, Mississippi, and Utah in the suit, alongside GOA.

The suit challenges the ATF’s Final Rule issued on April 19, 2024, entitled “Definition of ‘Engaged in the Business’ as a Dealer in Firearms.”

As we previously reported, the rule is not only a constitutional overreach by the agency (amongst others that are also being litigated), but it creates numerous traps for law-abiding gun owners who wish to sell pieces of their personal collection. The vague and capricious wording of the rule means even one sale could be grounds for considering an individual a firearms dealer. And the penalties for not being licensed are stiff.

The complaint reads: “…the Final Rule goes far beyond the subtle change Congress made to the law, subjecting hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners to presumptions of criminal guilt for all manner of activities relating to the innocuous, statutorily authorized, and constitutionally protected private sale of firearms.”

According to a statement on their website, the Tennessee Firearms Association is quite involved in the suit: “Tennessee Firearms Association has made a significant commitment to assist in funding this litigation. TFA’s volunteer executive director, who is a full time practicing attorney, has agreed to be one of the attorneys representing the non-state plaintiffs in this action.”

Arkansas Attorney General, Tim Griffin, said the lawsuit is directly challenging actions of the Biden administration. “In a number of areas, the Biden administration has sought to change policy… outside of Congress through the regulatory process, where they need to be going through Congress,” Griffin said. “The law has a lot of discretion in it…we’re challenging it because it’s illegal,” he added.

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