July 5th, 2023
Federal Judge Vacates ATF Rule on Unfinished Receivers/Frames
An over-reaching rule recently imposed by the Biden Administration-controlled ATF has been halted by a Federal judge in Texas. In the VanDerStok v. Garland case, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Conner vacated the ATF’s “Final Rule” which treated unfinished frames and receivers the same as if they are functional firearms. The Truth About Guns Blog notes: “In another blow to the Biden Administration’s ongoing war on the gun industry and firearm owners, a Federal judge has thrown out the ATF’s attempt at regulating gun parts and partial receivers as complete firearms.”
“After earlier issuing an injunction blocking ATF enforcement, United States District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled yesterday that the ATF overstepped its regulatory authority by skirting the legislative process and, in effect, unilaterally re-writing the Gun Control Act of 1968 in order to allow it to regulate gun parts as it does complete firearms. O’Connor vacated the agency’s rule granting the plaintiffs summary judgement.” — Truth About Guns Blog.
Judge O’Connor issued his 38-page decision last week. The Order stated: “This case presents the question of whether the federal government may lawfully regulate partially manufactured firearm components, related firearm products, and other tools and materials in keeping with the Gun Control Act of 1968. Because the Court concludes that the government cannot regulate those items without violating federal law, the Court holds that the government’s recently enacted Final Rule, Definition of ‘Frame or Receiver’ and Identification of Firearms, 87 Fed. Reg. 24,652 (codified at 27 C.F.R. pts. 447, 478, and 479), is unlawful agency action taken in excess of the ATF’s statutory jurisdiction. On this basis, the Court vacates the Final Rule.”
O’Connor added: “A part that has yet to be completed or converted to function as frame or receiver is not a frame or receiver. ATF’s declaration that a component is a ‘frame or receiver’ does not make it so if, at the time of evaluation, the component does not yet accord with the ordinary public meaning of those terms.”
Judge O’Connor’s ruling in VanDerStok v. Garland vacates the controversial ATF Final Rule that effectively changed the definition of a firearm under Federal law.
Judge O’Connor further observed that previous regulatory actions do NOT justify rulings that are clearly beyond the scope of ATF authority: “If these administrative records show, as Defendants contend, that ATF has previously regulated components that are not yet frames or receivers but could readily be converted into such items, then the historical practice does nothing more than confirm that the agency has, perhaps in multiple specific instances over several decades, exceeded the lawful bounds of its statutory jurisdiction.”
This video covers the Preminary Injunction previously issued in VanDerStok vs. Garland
The Firearms Policy Coalition wrote: “Our victory in VanDerStok v. Garland vacated the ‘Frame or Receiver’ Final Rule and restored the pre-rule status quo. The era of unchecked disarmament schemes is over. You can find case details at FPCLaw.org.
Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan M. Gottlieb stated: “This decision amounts to another court blow to Joe Biden’s anti-gun agenda, which threatens the very Constitution he swore to uphold and defend when he took office.” And SAF Exec. Director Adam Kraut added: “This case is one more example of the Biden administration’s ongoing effort to exceed its authority in an effort to place as many restrictions as possible on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. We are pleased the court took this decisive action, and we will litigate this issue to finality, if and when the government appeals.”