Texas has secured a temporary halt of new restrictions on private gun sales imposed by the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit on May 1 challenging new ATF regulations that redefine who is “engaged in the business” as a firearms dealer.

The 126-page Final Rule would have the effect of criminalizing law-abiding Americans for private gun purchases and sales.

The rule was set to take effect today.

Paxton announced Sunday that a federal court issued a two-week temporary restraining order, delaying enforcement of the rule until June 2 while the state seeks longer-term relief.

“I am relieved that we were able to secure a restraining order that will prevent this illegal rule from taking effect,” said Paxton. “The Biden Administration cannot unilaterally overturn Americans’ constitutional rights and nullify the Second Amendment.”

The court found that the new regulations likely violate the Administrative Procedure Act because they conflict with the underlying legislation, the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, “in at least three ways.”

Contrary to BSCA provisions, the ATF asserts:

  1. There is no minimum number of firearms required to be “engaged in business,”
  2. Actual profit is not a requirement of the statute, and
  3. The term “personal collection” does not include firearms accumulated primarily for personal protection.

The order notes that ATF’s defense of the rule necessitates “the absurdity that the statute’s safe harbor provision provides no safe harbor at all for the majority of gun owners.”

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. …


In other words, “just trust us.”

Paxton’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of a multi-state coalition that included Louisiana, Mississippi, and Utah, along with individual Jeffery Tormey and the organizations Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, Tennessee Firearms Association, and Virginia Citizens Defense League.

The court held that the three other states did not establish standing at this stage of litigation, but Texas and the other plaintiffs demonstrated a “substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits” and a “substantial threat of irreparable injury.”

The court concluded,

That Plaintiffs would suffer irreparable injury absent an injunction is hard to dispute. Plaintiff Texas faces the irreparable injury of revenue loss… Other Plaintiffs face both civil and criminal enforcement actions for engaging in conduct that the BSCA permits but the Final Rule impermissibly forbids.

The full order may be read here.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.