US Federal Judge Thwarts Bid to Tighten Firearm Sales Regulations

A federal judge hindered President Biden’s efforts towards stricter gun control on Sunday as he impeded the full execution of a measure designed to mandate gun-dealers to carry out licensing and background checks when trading firearms at gun shows and online.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ new rule, enforced in Texas, and against members of several firearms rights groups, was temporarily halted by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of Amarillo. Kacsmaryk, who was appointed during former President Trump’s term, issued the ruling ahead of the rule’s effective date on Monday, following a lawsuit filed by Texas, a selection of gun rights proponents, and three other Republican-governed states.

The judge sided with the complainants, claiming provisions of the rule contradicted certain aspects of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – the 2022 law expanding the range of firearm sellers obligated to secure licenses. In his judgement, Kacsmaryk criticized the rule for not considering those who obtain or trade guns for personal protection eligible for an exemption from the licensing requirement, provided to those who acquire or trade firearms for their ‘personal collection.’

The halted rule was issued last month and according to the Biden administration, was aimed to impact over 23,000 unlicensed dealers and countless gun sales annually by addressing the perceived ‘gun show loophole.’

The restraining action has brought comfort to the Republicans. “I am relieved that we were able to secure a restraining order that will prevent this illegal rule from taking effect,” expressed Texas Attorney General Paxton. The U.S. Department of Justice, defending the rule in court, did not comment on the matter.

Firearm rights factions protected by Kacsmaryk’s order encompass the Gun Owners of America, which claims a membership of 2 million. The judge however rejected Louisiana, Mississippi, and Utah’s standing to challenge the rule and declined to prevent its enforcement in these states. His order will remain valid until June 2, pending further proceedings.

The courthouse in Amarillo has become a favored venue for right-wing litigants contesting federal government policies under Biden’s administration, with Kacsmaryk being the only active judge. Notably, he has often ruled in their favor, including last year when he suspended the approval of the controversial abortion pill mifepristone. The U.S. Supreme Court has meanwhile left the pill on the market while considering the case.