HomePoliticsUS judge blocks Biden-backed rule expanding gun background checks

US judge blocks Biden-backed rule expanding gun background checks


By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Sunday blocked the Biden administration from fully implementing a new rule requiring gun dealers to obtain permits and conduct background checks when selling firearms at gun shows and online.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo temporarily barred the application of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rule in Republican-led Texas or against members of various gun rights groups.

“I am relieved that we were able to obtain a restraining order that will prevent this illegal rule from going into effect,” Texas Attorney General Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which is defending the rule in court, did not respond to a request for comment.

Kacsmaryk, an appointee of Republican former President Donald Trump, issued his ruling before the rule took effect Monday, in response to a lawsuit by Texas, gun rights advocates and three other Republican-led states.

The lawsuit challenged a rule finalized last month that the Democratic president sets Joe BidenAccording to the government, more than 23,000 unlicensed dealers and tens of thousands of gun sales each year would be affected by closing the “gun show loophole.”

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Under the rule, those who sell guns at gun shows, other locations and over the Internet are subject to the same requirements as gun stores to check the backgrounds of potential buyers.

In his ruling, Kacsmaryk agreed with the plaintiffs that the rule’s provisions contradicted the text of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a 2022 law that expanded the category of gun sellers required to obtain licenses.

He criticized the rule for not allowing people who buy or sell firearms for personal protection to qualify for a legal exemption from the licensing requirement for people who buy or sell guns for a “personal collection.”

Kacsmaryk said this resulted in “the absurdity that the statute’s safe harbor provision provides no safe harbor at all for the majority of gun owners.”

Gun rights groups whose members fall under Kacsmaryk’s command include the Gun Owners of America, which has two million members.

However, the judge ruled that Louisiana, Mississippi and Utah failed to establish that they could challenge the rule, and he declined to block its enforcement in their jurisdictions. His order remains in effect until June 2, pending further court proceedings.

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Kacsmaryk is the only active judge in Amarillo and is making his courthouse a favorite venue for conservative litigants challenging federal government policies during the Biden administration.

He has repeatedly ruled in their favor, most notably last year when Kacsmaryk suspended approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the pill to remain on the market while it hears the case.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Christopher Cushing)

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