The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) published its pistol brace rule in the Federal Register on Tuesday and was immediately sued by Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL).
The ATF, under the auspices of the National Firearms Act (NFA), is categorizing pistol braces under the NFA, thereby requiring registration of the devices with the ATF.
In April 2021 the Congressional Research Service observed, “In November 2012, however, ATF determined that attaching a stabilizing brace to an AR-type pistol would not change that firearm’s classification from a solely Gun Control Act regulated handgun to an NFA-regulated short-barreled rifle.” But the ATF, at President Joe Biden’s direction, now claims that a stabilizer brace on a pistol does turn the firearm into a short-barreled rifle, with some exceptions.
On January 13, 2023, Breitbart News noted the finalization of the ATF’s pistol brace rule and that individuals in possession of said braces have 120 days to register them once the final rule appears in the Federal Register.
The rule was published on Tuesday, and WILL immediately filed suit.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) has issued a rule reclassifying pistols with stabilizing braces (which are designed and intended to be attached to the user’s forearm) as short-barreled rifles (which are, by contrast, designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder). ATF made this change without legal authority and despite previously and repeatedly concluding just the opposite.
WILL also claims: “This regulatory about-face means that by bureaucratic fiat, ATF is forcing millions of Americans to decide among three unthinkable choices: (1) destroy, dismantle, or hand over the property they purchased with ATF’s prior and affirmative approval, (2) list their pistol—and by extension their own name and address—on a national gun registry, or (3) commit a felony.”
WILL’s claim is based on the ATF’s list of options for current pistol brace owners
Breitbart News quoted the ATF claims braces options, as presented in the final [rule]:
• Scenario 1: Turn in the entire firearm with the attached “stabilizing brace” to ATF;
• Scenario 2: Destroy the whole firearm;
• Scenario 3: Convert the short-barreled rifle into a long-barreled rifle;
• Scenario 4: Apply to register the weapon under the NFA; or
• Scenario 5: Permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” from the firearm so that it cannot be reattached.
ATF’s actions are unlawful. The new rule unlawfully usurps Congressional authority by significantly expanding the definition of “rifle” under federal law and, with it, imposes potential criminal liability on millions of Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights. Such a dramatic seizure of legislative authority violates not only the Administrative Procedures Act, but the separation of powers, as informed by the Major Questions Doctrine…and the “fundamental right” to keep and bear arms.
The case is: BRITTO v. ATF in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Amarillo Division.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. AWR Hawkins holds a PhD in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.