June 17, 2024


Jesse Woche
Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator

Joint Statement Regarding the Challenge to ATF’s Federal Background Check Ruling

We, the undersigned organizations and community members, write to express our deep concern regarding Attorney General Paxton’s recent actions to prevent the enforcement of a critical ATF rule in Texas. This rule, which requires certain private gun sellers to become licensed and perform background checks on gun sales, represents a significant breakthrough in gun safety and went into effect nationwide on Monday, May 20, after Americans submitted more than 274,000 comments in support of the rule during the comment period.

Background checks are a proven measure that saves lives by keeping firearms out of the hands of individuals with documented dangerous histories. This essential safeguard helps protect our communities from gun violence and tragedy.

However, the decision to challenge this rule by suing the ATF, resulting in a ruling by a federal judge that blocks implementation in Texas and three other states, is a direct impediment to the safety of Texans. This action means that today, most of the country is safer than Texas, leaving our communities vulnerable and at unnecessary risk.

Texas has experienced unimaginable tragedy as a direct result of a weakened background check system. In Midland-Odessa in 2019, the shooter who killed seven people and wounded 25 more, including three police officers, purchased an AR-15-style rifle from a private seller. 

And thousands more Texans are shot and killed each year. 

A federal report released on April 4th shows that between 2017 and 2021, ATF investigations linked unlicensed dealers to more than 68,000 trafficked guns. Those guns were used in 368 shootings. 

According to a University of Houston survey in 2023, the majority of Texans support the expansion of background checks as a common sense measure to enhance public safety. We urge AG Paxton to reconsider this stance and comply with federal law. Texans deserve the same level of protection and safety that this rule provides to the rest of the country.

We are committed to advocating for expanded background checks in Texas and will continue to work tirelessly until all Texans are safe from preventable gun deaths and injuries. We call on our supporters to help us hold elected leaders accountable to prioritizing the safety and well-being of our communities.


Texas Gun Sense

Lives Robbed

Texas Doctors for Social Responsibility

National Council of Jewish Women – Austin Section

Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT)

March For Our Lives

Progress Texas

League of Women Voters of Texas

Doctors For America

Moms Demand Action

Texas Impact

Maria Monge, MD

Whitney Thurman

Sue S. Bornstein, MD

Laura Subrin Yeager

Lina Triesch