The National Rifle Association (NRA) and 25 Republican-led states have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a rule recently finalized by Joe Biden’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) regarding pistol braces.
The new ATF rule categorizes pistols equipped with stabilizing braces as “short-barreled rifles” and therefore subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act (NFA). The NRA argues that the new rule is arbitrary and vague, leaving room for abuse of power by unelected bureaucrats who will make decisions on a case-by-case basis without an objective standard.
The ATF vaguely defines a stabilizing brace as an accessory that provides a surface area to allow the weapon to be fired from the shoulder, as long as other factors indicate that the firearm is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder.
Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Jason Ouimet stated that every American gun owner is in danger of potentially facing felony charges without any new statute being properly enacted by the nation’s elected representatives in Congress.
Ouimet added: “The NRA believes this rule will fail for the same reasons the bump stock rule failed — ATF can only apply federal statutes; it can’t rewrite them.”
The new rule came as part of the comprehensive gun crime strategy announced by the Biden White House in April 2021. That announcement came in response to two mass shootings in Colorado and Ohio, where the attackers used firearms with stabilizing braces.
Biden accused American gun manufacturers of avoiding federal regulations by selling stabilizing braces which he claims converts a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, thereby making them more dangerous in the wrong hands.
The new rule requires current owners of anything the ATF might declare a “pistol brace” to take one of five actions within 120 days, starting January 31, 2023. Otherwise lawful owners must either turn in the entire firearm, destroy the entire gun, convert the firearm into a long-barreled rifle, register the weapon under the NFA, or permanently remove and dispose of the stabilizing brace.
The lawsuit filed by the NRA and 25 states was joined by citizen Second Amendment advocates and a coalition of 25 states.
The states listed as plaintiffs in the case include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
In addition to the NRA-led case, another federal lawsuit against the ATF rule was filed this week by Second Amendment public interest group Gun Owners of America, the Gun Owners Foundation, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.