Breaking News: ATF Blocked from Enforcing Reset Trigger Regulation


The National Association for Gun Rights sued the ever-expanding ATF in August over its regulation of forced reset triggers. NAGR’s complaint is structured similarly to Michael Cargill’s successful argument in Cargill v. Garland about bump stocks. That is, the ATF had overstepped its authority under the Administrative Procedures Act by arbitrarily and capriciously categorizing forced reset triggers as machine guns, and had abused its regulatory power.

NAGR requested a preliminary injunction to safeguard those who manufacture and own legally obtained FRTs…at least until the issue is completely debated and decided.

As United States District Court Judge Reed O’Connor wrote:

Without immediate relief, Plaintiffs fear civil and criminal prosecution. For those reasons, among others, Plaintiffs are suing various government officers and entities—the Attorney General of the United States, the DOJ, the ATF, and the Director of the ATF (collectively, the “Defendants”)—over the ATF’s newly broadened definition and implementation of the machinegun regulation.

In the instant action, Plaintiffs bring an APA challenge to the validity of Defendants’ interpretation of the “machinegun” definition. According to Plaintiffs, this definition is unlawful because “Defendants’ interpretation of the law and their specific actions to threaten and potentially initiate enforcement actions against Plaintiffs are thus arbitrary, capricious, and otherwise contrary to law.”

To protect the status quo during the pendency of the lawsuit, Plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing or otherwise implementing the novel definition until the Court is able to rule on the merits. Such relief is available under the Court’s inherent equitable powers and pursuant to statutory authorization under 5 U.S.C. § 705.


And given Fifth Circuit case law, Judge O’Connor concluded:

…Plaintiffs contend that the ATF’s regulation broadening the machinegun definition is an arbitrary and capricious expansion of the agency’s authority. Plaintiffs are likely correct. Accordingly, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have carried their burden at this stage to show that the expanded definition of machinegun likely exceeds the scope of ATF’s statutory authority. Therefore, Plaintiffs have satisfied “arguably the most important” of the four factors [justifying a preliminary injunction].

He issued a preliminary injunction yesterday, preventing the ATF from enforcing its definitions against NAGR, its members, Rare Breed Triggers, and its customers.

The complete order can be found here.


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