SCOTUS Takes Up Case Challenging 80% Receiver Rule

Daniel Y
by Daniel Y

Once again, a lawsuit against a rule made by the ATF is headed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Garland v. VanDerStok challenges the ATF’s administrative rule that declared firearm kits and partially-manufactured receivers were firearms. This follows hot on the heels of oral arguments in Cargill, the case fighting the bump stock ban.

Laws and Regulations @ TFB:

Before this case went to SCOTUS, it was heard at the district court and 5th Circuit appeals court. The plaintiffs challenging the ATF won at both of those levels. The Department of Justice appealed to SCOTUS to try and put the rule back in place after it was blocked by both lower courts. The process to get SCOTUS to is called a “petition of certiorari.” The petition is accompanied by a brief that lays out the issues in the case and explains why they are important enough for SCOTUS to take on.

Supreme Court cases also include a succinct statement of the issues to be decided. Here is what they are looking at for this case:

Issues: (1) Whether “a weapon parts kit that is designed to or may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive” under 27 C.F.R. § 478.11 is a “firearm” regulated by the Gun Control Act of 1968; and (2) whether “a partially complete, disassembled, or nonfunctional frame or receiver” that is “designed to or may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted to function as a frame or receiver” under 27 C.F.R. § 478.12(c) is a “frame or receiver” regulated by the act.

VanDerStok was initially filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition on behalf of two individuals and a business. The Second Amendment Foundation intervened in the case later on behalf of one of its members. Before long, a who’s-who of the 80% industry intervened in this case to protect their interests.

It will be a while before we get a final decision on this case, so stay tuned.

Slide from the ATF showing that an AR-15 forging is not a receiver

Statement from FPC:

Last November, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that portions of ATF’s “frame or receiver” rule are unlawful. This February, the federal government filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing the Fifth Circuit wrongly ruled on FPC and FPCAF’s favor. FPC and FPCAF disagreed with the government’s reasoning but agreed the Supreme Court should hear the case to ensure that a final decision could be applied across the United States.

Plaintiffs in FPC’s VanDerStok case include FPC, two individual FPC members, and Tactical Machining, LLC. The parties are represented at the Supreme Court by Cooper & Kirk, Mountain States Legal Foundation, and FPCAF.

Daniel Y
Daniel Y

AKA @fromtheguncounter on Instagram. Gun nerd, reloader, attorney, and mediocre hunter. Daniel can still be found on occasion behind the counter at a local gun store. When he is not shooting, he enjoys hiking, camping, and rappelling around Utah.

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