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Temporary Restraining Order Issued Against ATF Final Rule

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On May 19, United States District Court Judge, Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, issued a temporary restraining order against the ATF’s “Engaged in the Business” rule.

As we previously reported, Texas and a consortium of other states, along with Gun Owners of America, filed suit against the ATF on May 1. The suit challenges the ATF Final Rule by arguing that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, the lawsuit argues that the Final Rule is:

  1. arbitrary and capricious;
  2. in excess of ATF’s lawful authority;
  3. an abuse of ATF’s discretion;
  4. in contravention of the BSCA; and
  5. violative of the Second and Fourth Amendments.

The temporary restraining order is effective only for Texas, Jeffery Tormey, members of Gun Owners of America, Inc., the Gun Owners Foundation, the Tennessee Firearms Association, and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, and lasts through June 2, 2024.

Louisiana, Mississippi, and Utah are excluded from the relief in the temporary restraining order.

In his 14 page decision, Judge Kacsmaryk wrote that the final rule violates the APA as well as s Section 921(a)(21)(C) of the safe harbor provision. He also pointed out that the law as written is contradictory of the basic premise of our judicial system: “First, they flip the statute on its head by requiring that firearm owners prove innocence rather than the government prove guilt.”

Judge Kacsmaryk also makes an observation evident to most Americans at this point, which is: don’t trust government.

Plaintiffs understandably fear that these presumptions will trigger civil or criminal penalties for conduct deemed lawful just yesterday. Nevertheless, ATF avers that its “knowledge of existing case law” and “subject-matter expertise” will prevent misuse or abuse of the presumptions. 89 Fed. Reg. at 28975. In other words, “just trust us.” But “[p]resumptions, especially in administrative proceedings that may generate institution-destroying liability, cannot be a matter of Department ipse dixit.”

The temporary restraining order is likely to be challenged by the government.

In an email to members on the subject, Eric Pratt, Senior Vice President, Gun Owners of America, said, “I also want our recent victory to send a message to every squishy member of Congress who wrongly believes that we must drop to our knees and surrender our God-given rights to the rabid anti-gun lobby. As we just witnessed, when we have the courage to stand up and fight for our God-given rights, WE WIN.”

We will continue to cover this story.

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