Another Texas Smackdown for ATF

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas has delivered another victory in the battle against the ATF’s arbitrary rulemaking. This time, it’s the new rules on unfinished frames, receivers, and kits.

The case is VanDerStok v. Garland and is being heard by District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, Judge O’Connor added Blackhawk Manufacturing, better known as 80% Arms, as a separate plaintiff to the lawsuit. Blackhawk is one of the largest producers of 80% frames and kits

In an earlier ruling filed on September 2, the court determined that the ATF’s new rule likely exceeds the agency’s authority under the Gun Control Act. With that finding, Judge O’Connor issued a preliminary injunction that bars the ATF from enforcing its new rules against Tactical Machining. The injunction was later expanded to include Tactical Machining’s customers.

Judge O’Connor wrote: “Plaintiffs have shown a strong likelihood that they will succeed on the merits of their claims that ATF’s new definitions are inconsistent with the Gun Control Act.”

With the addition of Blackhawk as a named plaintiff, the court would seem to be inclined to expand the preliminary injunction to protect Blackhawk and its customers. Blackhawk filed a motion for an expansion of the injunction on Thursday.

This is a big setback for the ATF, because the door has been opened for other manufacturers to join the lawsuit and push hard for a nationwide injunction, which is the ultimate goal until the question of the ATF’s tactics can make it to the Supreme Court. The court has already slapped down the EPA over similar actions so there is every reason to hope for the rogue ATF to be reined in.