Fifth Circuit Upholds District Court Decision Against ATF Partial Frame Rule

fifth circuit upholds district court decision against atf partial frame rule
Carolyn Kaster/AP

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court decision against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) “partially complete” pistol frame rule.

Breitbart News reported that the ATF used its pistol frame rule to redefine “partially complete pistol frames” as “firearms.” This allowed the ATF to require background checks for certain gun parts kits by claiming said parts could be used to build guns.

On July 2, 2023, Breitbart News reported that Judge Reed O’Connor in the United States District Court Northern District of Texas Fort Worth Division decided against the ATF’s rule in a suit brought by Jennifer VanDerStok, the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and others.

O’Connor stressed that the redefinition of gun parts is actually up to Congress rather than a federal agency. Moreover, O’Connor noted, “Because Congress did not define ‘frame or receiver,’ the words receive their ordinary meaning.”

He also pointed out that “weapons parts are not weapons.” He then vacated the ATF final rule.

The federal government appealed the ruling, and on July 24, 2023, the Fifth Circuit upheld the decision to vacate. The appeal was heard by Ronald Reagan-appointee Jerry Edwin Smith, George W. Bush-appointee Leslie H. Southwick, and Donald Trump-appointee Cory T. Wilson.

According to the Fifth Circuit:

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.

The lawsuit is VanDerStok v. Garland, No. 23-10718, in the United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

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AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010 and holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at Reach him directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Authored by Awr Hawkins via Breitbart July 24th 2023