Mark Brnovich Files Lawsuit Against Biden Administration over ATF Rulemaking That May Impede Second Amendment Rights

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich recently filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Acting Director of the ATF over the making of a rule that seeks to regulate firearm parts and transaction records.

“The ATF is attempting to overshoot the authority granted to it by Congress,” Brnovich said in a press release. “The rulemakings are unconstitutional, impractical, and would likely put a large number of parts manufacturers out of business.”

In May 2021, the ATF published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register titled “Definition of ‘Frame and Receiver’ and Identification of Firearms.” Nearly a year later, the rule was published in the register under the same title and is set to go into effect on August 24th.

The final rule seeks to update several definitions relating to firearms, but most prominently, modernizing the definition of a “frame or receiver.” The term “frame” will apply to a handgun, while the “receiver” is for a rifle, shotgun, or projectile weapon other than a handgun. “Frame or receiver” will define a single part of the firearm that “provides housing or a structure for one specific, primary fire control component of weapons that expel a projectile, or one specific, primary internal sound reduction component of forearm mufflers or silencers.” The rule also touches on gun manufacturers and retaining paper records more than 20 years old.

The complaint Brnovich co-led with a 17-state coalition takes issue with the ATF’s final rule and new definitions.

“At the bottom, the Final Rule represents omnibus legislation by a federal administrative agency, seeking to broadly rewrite federal gun control laws to suit a radically anti-gun political agenda,” according to the complaint.

Firstly, the complaint argues that the ATF’s presented definition of a “frame or receiver” is arbitrary and that not all firearms will have only one housing unit that perfectly aligns with the definition.

Furthermore, the coalition also took issue with the ATF’s definition of “readily,” which could determine when a “weapon parts kit, a partially complete or damaged frame or receiver, or an aggregation of weapon parts” becomes a firearm. This definition is used to claim that an 80 percent frame or receiver, when packaged as a kit with other unregulated parts such as a barrel, trigger, and spring, is a weapon because it contains all the parts necessary to function, whether assembled or not. The complaint outlines that this could bring criminal charges against those who transfer or possess non-firearms or unregulated items.

According to the complaint, the final rule also adopts an unlawful record retention policy. Currently, regulations require licensed dealers to keep all ATF Firearm Transaction Record (FTR) documents for 20 years, after which they may be discarded. However, the final rule seeks to amend this and require all documents be kept permanently until “business or license activity is discontinued” and then transfer the documents to the ATF’s out-of-business records center. The coalition argues this amendment takes a step toward illegally creating a national firearms registry as the ATF would have access to these documents past their retention requirement. The complaint alleges doing so could violate the privacy of firearm owners.

The coalition ended the complaint with a request that the court declares the final rule unlawful and issue an injunction prohibiting the defendants from enforcing it.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to nei[email protected].



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