Temporary pause on expanded background checks for firearms appears to end

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was granted the temporary restraining order last month.

AUSTIN, Texas — The temporary restraining order blocking a new federal gun law aimed at expanding background check requirements appears to have ended.

In May, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with several states, sued the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), claiming that the restrictions violated the constitutional rights of citizens.

The new rule would require firearms dealers to run background checks on buyers at gun shows or other places outside of brick-and-mortar stores to curtail gun violence and close a loophole.

Twenty-six Republican attorneys general filed lawsuits in federal court to block enforcement of the rule. The plaintiffs argued that the rule violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and that President Joe Biden doesn’t have the authority to implement it.

“We will not let Biden continue his tyrannical abuse of power,” Paxton said following the lawsuit. “His war on our Second Amendment rights must be stopped.”

RELATED: Temporary block placed on federal firearm law challenged by Texas AG Paxton

The decision by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, came before the rule had been set to take effect. Kacsmaryk wrote the rule sets presumptions about when a person intends to make a profit and whether a seller is “engaged in the business.” He said this is “highly problematic” for multiple reasons, including that it forces the firearm seller to prove innocence rather than the government to prove guilt.

Biden administration officials proposed the rule in August 2023, generating more than 380,000 public comments. It follows the nation’s most sweeping gun violence prevention bill in decades, which Biden signed in 2022 after lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement in the wake of the Uvalde Elementary School shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.

The rule implements a change in the 2022 law that expanded the definition of those who are “engaged in the business” of selling firearms, are required to become licensed by the ATF, and therefore must run background checks.

“This is going to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and felons,” Biden said in a statement in April. “And my administration is going to continue to do everything we possibly can to save lives. Congress needs to finish the job and pass universal background checks legislation now.”

Kacsmaryk is the sole district court judge in Amarillo, ensuring that all cases filed there land in front of him. Since taking the bench, he has ruled against the Biden administration on several other issues, including immigration and LGBTQ protections.

RELATED: Texas AG Paxton sues Biden Administration over changes in private gun sales rules

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