San Francisco, CA— Today, Democracy Forward, on behalf of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, filed suit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for unlawfully withholding communications between senior Administration officials and gun industry lobbyists that could reveal the extent of the gun lobby’s influence on Administration policymaking.
The groups filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records after the Administration took numerous policy positions favored by the gun lobby, including a June 2018 decision to greenlight the distribution of undetectable and untraceable 3D-printed guns despite recognition by courts and prior administrations that compelling national security concerns justified limiting distribution for 3D gun blueprints. The Administration has violated the FOIA’s legal requirements by failing to release the requested documents to the public.
“In nominating Chad Readler, the Trump Administration has once again offered up a close ally of the gun lobby for a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary. This time, it has done so while unlawfully withholding key parts of his public service record that would reveal the extent of any coordination with the gun lobby,” said Democracy Forward Policy and Strategy Director Corey Ciorciari. “If senior Trump Administration officials are not pursuing dangerous policies at the behest of the gun lobby, then they should have no problem complying with their legal obligation to provide the records we’re seeking.”
The suit demands communications between senior DOJ and ATF officials, including Chad Readler, who, as the head of the Civil Division, oversaw the Department’s litigation concerning 3D-printed guns, and high-ranking members of the gun lobby.
“President Trump came to office repeatedly claiming he would take on ‘the swamp’ and reduce the power of special interests over the American people, but in power he’s done the exact opposite,” said Adam Skaggs, Giffords Law Center Chief Counsel. “Trump’s administration has ignored the demands from Americans in every community to take action to fight the country’s gun violence crisis. Rather, they have brought in lobbyists for a gun industry intently focused on selling more firearms regardless of the cost to public safety. Even worse, at every turn they have attempted to obscure who is truly helping make decisions at the Justice Department. It’s why this week we are sharing our grave concerns about Chad Readler’s potential appointment to a seat where he would be overseeing the very laws he’s actively sought to undermine. Before his nomination moves forward, all the facts about his work, particularly in instances like Trump’s sudden reversal on rules for the availability of downloadable 3D printed guns, need to see the light of day.”
The suit follows President Trump’s nomination of Readler to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, an action strongly opposed by the Giffords Law Center as highlighted in a letter being sent to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee before Readler’s nomination hearing on October 10th.
The case was filed today in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Democracy Forward Foundation is representing Giffords Law Center on a pro bono basis in this matter.
For nearly 25 years, the legal experts at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violencehave been fighting for a safer America by researching, drafting, and defending the laws, policies, and programs proven to save lives from gun violence.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.