Court issues final decision on distributor’s 7N6 importation challenge

Almost a year after issuing a summary judgment dismissing large portions of the lawsuit, a Seattle federal court filed a final decision to dismiss the case alleging ATF overreach by a Washington gun distributor.

The federal court handed down the decision last week against P.W. Arms, which argued it lost $3 million when the ATF authorized it to import a specific type of Russian ammunition right before prohibiting it.

U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour signed the final order in April to address attorney fees for challenging ATF’s neglect of a Freedom of Information Act request. P.W. Arms asked for insight into the process for determining whether or not a type of ammo is armor piercing. The ATF waited 20 months before responding.

Coughenour called the ATF’s response “egregious and a violation of FOIA,” but denied the company’s motion asking to recover $104,231 in legal fees.

Last August, Coughenour ruled to strike large portions of the complaint against ATF, saying the agency’s decision to re-classify the ammo in question was not “arbitrary and capricious” under the language of the law and pointed out that the ATF may revoke an importation permit at any time.

According to court documents, ATF permitted P.W. Arms to import 7N6 5.45x39mm Russian ammo on three separate occasion, with each shipment containing 50 million rounds. But a month after the shipments arrived in February 2014, the ATF notified the company the ammo had been re-classified as armor piercing, so it was prohibited and barred from importation.

The ATF followed up the statement in April 2014 in a public ruling, stating the surplus ammo had been re-classified. According to federal law, armor piercing ammo is defined as rifle ammo containing a specific metal core (or combination of metals) that can be fired out of a handgun. The agency issued the ruling after learning of a handgun chambered for 7N6 was available in the U.S. commercial market.