Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading a multistate coalition including Louisiana, Missouri, and Utah to sue the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) of the U.S. Department of Justice for unlawfully attempting to abridge Americans’ constitutional right to privately buy and sell firearms.

The ATF’s regulatory restrictions go beyond the authority granted to the agency by Congress. The new Final Rule is arbitrary and capricious and is a flagrant violation of the Second Amendment. Attorney General Paxton is seeking immediate injunctive relief to stop the ATF from enforcing its unlawful edict while the issue is considered fully by the courts. 

In the past, Congress deliberately recognized the legality of private sales of firearms by non-dealers, going so far as to narrow the statutory definition of “dealer” to prevent the ATF from unlawfully suppressing the private transfer of firearms. Nevertheless, on April 19, 2024, the ATF published a new regulation that would subject hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners to presumptions of criminal guilt for engaging in the constitutionally protected private sale of firearms. 

“Yet again, Joe Biden is weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to rip up the Constitution and destroy our citizens’ Second Amendment rights,” said Attorney General Paxton. “This is a dramatic escalation of his tyrannical abuse of authority. With today’s lawsuit, it is my great honor to defend our Constitutionally-protected freedoms from the out-of-control federal government.”

Gun Owners of America (“GOA”), Virginia Citizens Defense League, and Tennessee Firearms Association joined as co-plaintiffs. GOA Vice President Erich Pratt said: “Criminalizing untold numbers of Americans for simply selling a firearm in a private party transaction is wrong, unconstitutional, and must be halted by the courts. Anything less would further encourage this tyrannical administration to continue weaponizing vague statutes into policies that are meant to further harass and intimidate gun owners and dealers at every turn.”  

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said: “Nearly 40 years ago, Congress condemned ATF for targeting innocent gun owners instead of focusing on felons, calling ATF's actions 'reprehensible.' Congress even changed the law to limit ATF's authority. But ATF is at it again, this time trying to require a citizen selling even a single firearm to obtain a license. Utah is proud to join the 26 states—in three separate lawsuits—protecting their citizens from this bureaucratic overreach.”

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said: “By seeking to treat every legal gunowner as a commercial gun dealer and every gun sale or trade into a commercial transaction, this rule unmasks the Biden Administration’s anti-gun agenda in ways many of its other actions have not. The Second Amendment could never have contemplated this kind of regulation and it will not withstand scrutiny in the courts.  On behalf of Mississippi gunowners, we are proud to stand with the citizens who have come forward in this lawsuit.”

To read the filing, click here.