ATF’s Ghost Gun Rule cases – Vanderstok v. Garland, Morehouse v. ATF, Division 80 v. Garland
Clarifying the minimal impact that ATF Final Rule 2021R-05F will have on law-abiding gun owners who choose to build their own firearms.
Published April 26 and effective August 22, 2022, ATF Final Rule 2021R-05F, titled Definition of “Frame or Receiver” and Identification of Firearms (the “Rule”), requires ghost gun sellers to comply with the same minimal measures that all legal gun sellers already undertake when selling fully manufactured firearms or fully machined frames or receivers: these firearms and components must be serialized, and purchases through a licensed dealer are subject to a background check. Plaintiffs in several states have filed Second-Amendment challenges to the Rule, claiming that it will prevent law-abiding gun owners from completing at-home builds and may cause substantial economic problems for many ghost gun producers, manufacturers, and retailers.
Case Information: Jennifer Vanderstok et al., v. Merrick Garland, No. 4:22-cv-00691-O (United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, filed August 29, 2022); Morehouse Enterprises LLC, et al., v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, et al., No. 3:22-cv-00116 (United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, filed August 15, 2022); Division 80 v. Garland et al, No. 3:22-cv-00148 (United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, brief filed July 8, 2022)
At Issue: In August, the Courts for the Southern District of Texas and the District of North Dakota denied preliminary injunctions sought by the Plaintiffs in Division 80 and Morehouse, finding the Plaintiffs had failed to show they would suffer irreparable harm from the Rule remaining in effect while their cases are pending. The Northern District of Texas has since granted preliminary injunctions preventing ATF from applying the Rule to the Plaintiffs and additional parties in Vanderstok, finding they had shown they were likely to suffer irreparable harm and that the Rule likely exceeds the scope of ATF’s authority under the Gun Control Act. However,the Court found the Plaintiffs had not demonstrated that a national injunction would be justified.
Our Briefs: Gun Owners for Safety, a group of gun owners advocating for common sense gun safety regulations, clarifies the minimal impact that a recent ATF rule will have on law-abiding gun owners who choose to build their own firearms at home.
Most methods of at-home builds by lawful gun owners—such as building a gun from scratch, building a historical replica, or assembling a gun with components that are already fully manufactured—are completely unaffected by the Rule. Our brief distinguishes between a “scratch build,” the process by which expert artisans craft a gun from scratch using raw materials, and a “kit build,” the process by which an amateur can build a gun from already manufactured parts. The new rules does not impact scratch builds at all and only minimally impacts a “partially complete, disassembled, or nonfunctional frame or receiver, including a frame or receiver parts kit.”
There are two options for purchasing frames or receivers when completing a kit build: (1) a fully manufactured, serialized, and operational frame or receiver or (2) an 80% frame or receiver. The Rule has minimal impact on kit builds because fully machined frames or receivers already are regulated, and kits that include 80% frames or receivers will simply be treated in the same manner as kits with fully machined, serialized frames or receivers.
This coalition of law-abiding gun owners uses their personal experience building guns at home to demonstrate that the Rule does not place undue burden on the process of building or crafting guns at home.
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