GOP-led states sue Biden administration over new rules aimed at closing ‘gun show loophole’

Several GOP-led states have sued the Biden administration over a federal rule set to take effect later this month that will require people who sell firearms online and at gun shows to conduct background checks on their potential customers.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday by Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Utah, the states argue that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives overstepped its authority in finalizing the new rule and that the requirements violate the Second Amendment, among other things. In addition to the states, the lawsuit was also brought on behalf of several gun rights groups and an individual gun owner who resides in Amarillo, Texas.

“The notion that one must obtain a license in order to deal in firearms, on pain of criminal penalty, is a thoroughly modern invention,” the lawsuit argues. “Even so, federal law has defined ‘dealer’ in one form or another for more than 80 years, and only now do Defendants claim that private sales pose a regulatory issue that must be solved through bureaucratic edict.”

It goes on to describe the new rule as “an attempt by an administrative agency to implement policy change and enact omnibus federal gun control legislation through bureaucratic fiat, rather than through legislation.”

The lawsuit names the ATF, the bureau’s director, the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland as defendants.

DOJ and ATF declined CNN’s request for comment on the lawsuit.

The suit was filed at the federal courthouse in Amarillo, Texas, in a move that guaranteed its assignment to Matthew Kacsmaryk, a conservative judge who has a history of issuing nationwide injunctions against federal policies. Kacsmaryk issued a sweeping ruling against the abortion drug mifepristone in a major case that is now before the Supreme Court.

The new ATF rule, which is set to take effect May 20, aims to close what gun control advocates call the “gun show loophole” by increasing the requirements to obtain a federal firearms license, or FFL, by more specifically defining what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms.

By making the term more definitive, the Justice Department has said it aims to better regulate the market and encourage higher compliance with the federal background check requirement.

CNN’s Hannah Rabinowitz contributed to this report.

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