The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN
This matter comes before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff alleges that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms ("ATF") was arbitrary and capricious, and exceeded its authority, in denying an application to import firearms for sale to local law enforcement agencies where the importer had failed to attach a purchase order form, as required by the ATF.
This case involves a challenge to the legal requirements for importation of firearms into the United States. The relevant statute is found at 26 U.S.C. § 5844, which provides that:
No firearm shall be imported or brought into the United States or any territory under its control or jurisdiction unless the importer establishes under regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary, that the firearm to be imported or brought in is--
(1) being imported or brought in for the use of the United States or any department, independent establishment, or agency thereof or any State or possession or any political subdivision thereof; or
(2) being imported or brought in for scientific or research purposes; or
(3) being imported or brought in solely for testing or use as a model by a registered manufacturer or solely for use as a sample by a registered importer or registered dealer;
except that, the Secretary may permit the conditional importation or bringing in of a firearm for examination and testing in connection with classifying the firearm.
Pursuant to its statutory grant of authority, on August 3, 1971, the ATF adopted a regulation requiring any importer to establish "to the satisfaction of the Director" that the firearm is being imported for one of three permissible purposes: (1) for use by a governmental entity, (2) for scientific or research purposes, or (3) for use as a sample. 27 C.F.R. § 179.111(a) (1992). The regulation also requires any person desiring to import a firearm into the United States to file with the Director an application, referred to as Form 6, executed under penalty of perjury. Id. The application must include a "detailed explanation of why the importation of the firearms falls within the standards" set out by the regulation. Id.
Although not expressly mandated by the regulation, the ATF over the past approximately 16 years has in practice required that all applications to import firearms for sale to government entities be accompanied by a purchase order from the government entity. This purchase order requirement is found in ATF Ruling 80-8 which holds that "a licensee's application to import surplus military firearms ... for law enforcement officers will not be approved unless accompanied by a purchase order from ... any department, agency or political subdivision of any State." ATF Ruling 80-8, ATF Q.B. 1980-2.
On September 29, 1994, plaintiff submitted a Form 6 application to ATF, requesting approval to import the 598 machine guns stored at FTZ # 3 into the United States. Although plaintiff stated that it intended to sell the weapons to governmental entities, the application did not include a purchase order form. In a letter attached to the application, Interport explained that its request was prompted by its inability to find another suitable ...