Federal judge blocks rule closing ‘gun-show loophole’ in 4 states

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to close the so-called gun show loophole on Wednesday, expanding a prior temporary ruling to impact Texas, Louisiana, Utah and Mississippi.

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled last month that the requirement to run a background check before purchasing a firearm could not go into effect in Texas. His final ruling Wednesday expands that injunction to the three other states.

The Biden administration rule went into effect May 20. The plaintiffs argued that it infringed on the rights of gun owners and exceeded the federal government’s authority.

Kacsmaryk agreed with plaintiffs, finding that the rule was effectively “requiring that firearms owners prove innocence rather than the government prove guilt,” which could “trigger civil or criminal penalties for conduct deemed lawful just yesterday.”

He also found that included language intended to protect gun owners from prosecution was inadequate.

“The absurdity [is] that the statute’s safe harbor provision provides no safe harbor at all for the majority of gun owners,” the judge wrote.

The ruling also blocks enforcement of the rule for a number of gun rights organizations, including the Gun Owners of America, which has more than 1 million members nationwide.

Two other suits have also challenged the background check rule, one led by Arkansas and Kansas and joined by 19 other states, and a second from Florida.

“Texas has secured an injunction against Biden’s unlawful ATF rule that would criminalize the private sale of guns. Biden’s unconstitutional rule cannot be enforced in Texas,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said in a statement. “I’m proud to fight and win for our Second Amendment rights.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) rule remains in effect in the rest of the country, pending the other legal challenges. The federal government is expected to appeal Kacsmaryk’s decision, and the injunction is set to remain in effect until the judge makes a final ruling on the case.

Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, has overseen several politically controversial cases as part of his single-judge division in Texas. Democrats have blasted “judge shopping” in which conservatives have filed cases in the federal courthouse in Amarillo to get Kacsmaryk as the judge.

The Hill has reached out to the ATF for comment.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.