A decision is scheduled to be made in January by the ATF regarding the regulation of pistol braces.
The Department of Justice recently declared in a court filing that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) intends to issue the Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached “Stabilizing Braces” as a final regulation in January 2023. This regulation was initially presented by the agency in June 2021 and is the most recent in a history of ATF guidance, rulings, and regulations with respect to firearms with attached stabilizing braces.
If adopted, the regulation would likely make most firearms with connected braces subject to the rules of the National Firearms Act (NFA). In addition, these regulations would bring about increased taxation, extended waiting times, and registration.
Since 2012, the ATF has maintained that having a stabilizing brace on a pistol or other firearm does not render the weapon subject to the National Firearms Act, as this type of brace was initially developed to help disabled veterans fire large-format pistols. This purpose was first noted by then-Vice President Joe Biden during his term alongside President Obama. The origin of stabilizing braces as a tool to aid disabled veterans has been documented by SB Tactical.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has consistently resisted the government’s efforts to classify firearms with braces under the National Firearms Act. However, when the latest regulation was suggested, the NRA provided remarks, which can be accessed here.
On December 20, 2022, NRA-ILA representatives met with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to review the final rule that the ATF had proposed. OIRA’s review is often the last step a government agency needs to take before publishing a final rule. During the gathering, NRA-ILA staff raised the many worries that gun owners had about the rule.
Despite the various issues raised, the ATF has expressed its intentions to push through the last regulation. While a definitive date has yet to be announced for the release in January, the agency has a history of releasing its decisions close to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT). This year’s SHOT Show is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, January 17.
It is recommended to frequently visit nraila.org for news and information on this harmful regulation, as well as other laws, bills, and legal cases that affect your Second Amendment rights.
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OFFICIAL ATF STATEMENT:
On January 13, 2023, the Attorney General signed ATF final rule 2021R-08F, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,'” amending ATF’s regulations to clarify when a rifle is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.
The rule outlines the factors ATF would consider when evaluating firearms equipped with a purported “stabilizing brace” (or other rearward attachment) to determine whether these weapons would be considered a “rifle” or “short-barreled rifle” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, or a “rifle” or “firearm” subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act. The rule’s amended definition of “rifle” clarifies that the term “designed, redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder” includes a weapon that is equipped with an accessory, component, or other rearward attachment (e.g., a “stabilizing brace”) that provides surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder, provided other factors, as listed in the definition, indicate the weapon is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder.
This rule does not affect “stabilizing braces” that are objectively designed and intended as a “stabilizing brace” for use by individuals with disabilities, and not for shouldering the weapon as a rifle. Such stabilizing braces are designed to conform to the arm and not as a buttstock. However, if the firearm with the “stabilizing brace” is a short-barreled rifle, it needs to be registered within 120-days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
This rule is effective the date it is published in the Federal Register. Any weapons with “stabilizing braces” or similar attachments that constitute rifles under the NFA must be registered no later than 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register; or the short barrel removed and a 16-inch or longer rifle barrel attached to the firearm; or permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” such that it cannot be reattached, or the firearm is turned in to your local ATF office. Or the firearm is destroyed.
Please note that this is the text of the final rule as signed by the Attorney General, but the official version of the final rule will be as it is published in the Federal Register. The rule will go into effect once it is published in the Federal Register.
Vets and Other Organizations Take Legal Action Against ATF and Biden’s Administration
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a legal complaint in federal court on behalf of military veterans from Texas and Wisconsin against the Biden Administration. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has established a new rule which reclassifies up to 40 million pistols with stabilizing braces as “short-barreled rifles.” Stabilizing braces were designed to help disabled veterans shoot their pistols more accurately and safely. This new regulation requires millions of Americans to register firearms on a federal registry and pay a tax. Those who don’t register their stabilizing braces or turn in their weapons could face fines and prison time.
The Legal Action: A lawsuit contends that ATF’s new rule transgresses the Second Amendment and the Separation of Powers, which prevents regulatory organizations from creating new rules without explicit Congressional approval. The case is lodged in the Northern District of Texas. This is the initial complaint to challenge ATF’s final regulation.
Concerning WILL: This is the initial lawsuit in the country to question this illegal ruling and the sixth lawsuit WILL has brought against the Biden Administration. During the past two years, WILL has been honored to be the legal representative of people from 18 states in cases challenging the Biden Administration’s unlawful activities.
Dan Lennington of WILL Deputy Counsel expressed, “Our veterans are going on to fight in a different way by protecting our liberties here in the US. WILL is honored to be their representative. The Biden Administration is not allowed to switch pistols to rifles and we will firmly support the Second Amendment in the federal court system.”
- Darren A. Britto of Amarillo, Texas, is a Marine who served honorably in several operations, such as Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is the owner of a gun with a stabilizing brace, a “short-barreled rifle” per the new regulation. Britto uses this weapon to protect himself, for recreational shooting with his family, and in his role as a certified firearms instructor by the NRA and the State of Texas.
- Gabriel A. Tauscher of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, is a veteran who previously served with the US Infantry and then as a security contractor. In 2020, he was attacked in Minneapolis and shot 15 times, resulting in his spending 85 days in the hospital and requiring 20 pints of blood with 3 bullets still lodged in his body. Mr. Tauscher owns a pistol with a barrel of less than 16 inches and a stabilizing brace which he uses for self-defense and recreational purposes.
- Shawn M. Kroll of Hartland, Wisconsin, is the owner of a 10.5″ barreled handgun with a stabilizing brace, which he utilizes for recreational gunnery, hunting, and self-protection. A decorated Marine who served his country in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, Mr. Kroll has been honored for his distinguished service.
The administration’s decision to issue this new ATF regulation is in violation of Second Amendment Rights. Despite their protestations to the contrary, it is evident that the administration lacked any legitimate justification for this new ruling and ultimately failed to prove that it would be better for borrowers. SOFREP will monitor this case moving forward.
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