The Second Amendment Foundation has filed an opposition brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, opposing a stay request by the government in a case challenging the Biden administration’s attempt to classify unfinished firearm frames and receivers as “firearms.”
The brief was submitted to Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who acts as the Circuit Justice for the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans.
As this story went to press, SAF and other plaintiffs in the case were awaiting a decision from the high court about the stay request.
In a prepared statement, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb explained, “With our attorney, Chad Flores of Houston, Texas, we’re arguing that the Biden administration’s new administrative definition of a firearm illegally expands the term beyond its critical statutory boundaries.”
He said the administration’s effort to expand the definition of a firearm to be “nothing more than a power grab.”
SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut added this observation: “The Biden administration’s new definition is in direct contradiction to the 1968 Gun Control Act, and they know it. The administration is attempting to literally re-define what constitutes a firearm. We contend that District Judge Reed O’Connor’s summary judgment in this case was spot-on, and we are hopeful Justice Alito will understand and concur with our position.”
In a ruling last month, Judge O’Connor noted, “A part that has yet to be completed or converted to function as frame or receiver is not a frame or receiver. ATF’s declaration that a component is a ‘frame or receiver’ does not make it so if, at the time of evaluation, the component does not yet accord with the ordinary public meaning of those terms.”
On July 24, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government’s request for a stay against O’Connor’s ruling, explaining, “Because the ATF has not demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits, nor irreparable harm in the absence of a stay, we DENY the government’s request to stay the vacatur of the two challenged portions of the Rule. ‘[V]acatur …reestablish[es] the status quo ante’…which is the world before the Rule became effective. This effectively maintains, pending appeal, the status quo that existed for 54 years from 1968 to 2022.”
“As this case moves forward,” Kraut said at the time, “we expect to again prevail on the portions of the Final Rule that we challenged. The court’s finding that ATF had not demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits bodes well for SAF and its members.”
SAF asserts that the administration wants to re-define what constitutes a firearm, without any Congressional action. If allowed to go forward, the group maintains, it would create a situation where the White House can make law and simply bypass Congress.