BELLEVUE, WA – A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled unanimously that the Final Rule promulgated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on firearms receivers is illegal, and has remanded the case back to the district court for reconsideration.

Writing for the court, Circuit Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, a Donald Trump appointee, notes, “ATF, in promulgating its Final Rule, attempted to take on the mantle of Congress to ‘do something’ with respect to gun control. But it is not the province of an executive agency to write laws for our nation. That vital duty, for better or for worse, lies solely with the legislature.

“Only Congress may make the deliberate and reasoned decision to enact new or modified legislation regarding firearms based on the important policy concerns put forth by ATF and the various amici here,” Judge Engelhardt continues. “But unless and until Congress so acts to expand or alter the language of the Gun Control Act, ATF must operate within the statutory text’s existing limits. The Final Rule impermissibly exceeds those limits, such that ATF has essentially rewritten the law. This it cannot do, especially where criminal liability can—and, according to the Government’s own assertions, will—be broadly imposed without any Congressional input whatsoever. An agency cannot label conduct lawful one day and felonious the next—yet that is exactly what ATF accomplishes through its Final Rule.”

“We are elated with this unanimous court ruling,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The ATF clearly exceeded its authority. This is a major victory for gun owners and the rule of law.”

“I’m particularly pleased with Judge Andrew S. Oldham’s concurring opinion,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut, “because he goes into great detail about the history of the Final Rule, calling it ‘a vague, indeterminate, multi-factor balancing test,’ designed to discourage private citizens from abandoning the American tradition of crafting their own firearms. This victory underscores once again our mission to win firearms freedom, one lawsuit at a time.”

About the Second Amendment Foundation:

The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms.  Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 720,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.