Anti-Gun Group Wins Ruling Against ATF Ghost Gun “Loophole”

by Vern Evans

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The anti-gun group Giffords, founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, following her recovery from being shot by a deranged gunman in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011, has won a court victory against what her organization sees as a loophole in the ATF’s ghost gun rules that allowed AR ghost gun parts to be treated differently than other gun parts. The ruling effectively forces the ATF to now treat those exempted AR parts as firearms. The move could have extended reach in how some AR parts are sold and made available to gun owners.

The legal arm of the organization, the Giffords Law Center, along with California Attorney General Rob Bonta won the suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

“ATF took an important step last year to stem the flow of untraceable ghost guns. However, critical loopholes still exist in ATF’s current rule” says David Pucino, legal director and deputy chief counsel for the Giffords Law Center. “We brought this lawsuit to close those dangerous loopholes that left AR-platform ghost guns on the market, and we applaud the court’s decision ordering ATF to address them. This is a big win for public safety.”

It wasn’t a 100 percent win for Giffords and California, but the court did find that the ATF “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in determining what constituted a firearm or not.

In its ruling, the court wrote:

Currently pending before the Court are the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. An amicus brief has also been submitted in support of Plaintiffs’ motion. The issues pending before the Court are: (1) whether Plaintiffs have standing to pursue this case and (2) whether ATF’s determinations related to certain AR-type partially complete receivers violate the APA (Administration Procedure Act), either because the determinations are contrary to the plain text of the GCA (Gun Control Act) or because they are arbitrary and capricious. Having considered the parties’ briefs and accompanying submissions, the Court hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants’ motion and GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiffs’ motion. The Court finds that there is no genuine dispute of material fact that Plaintiffs have standing. The Court further finds that ATF acted arbitrarily and capriciously with respect to its categorical determinations that AR-type partially complete receivers that are not indexed or machined and not sold with, e.g., a jig or tools are not firearms for purposes of the GCA. In other respects, the Court finds that the regulations are not arbitrary and capricious.

For the complete 46-page ruling, click here.

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