NRA Wins Suit against ATF Pistol Brace Rule

Federal Judge Blocks ATF from enforcing rule that classified pistols with a stabalizing brace as "short barreled rifles"

by Jack Phillips, The Epoch, April 2, 2024

A federal judge has blocked the ATF from enforcing its pistol brace rule for millions of members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) as the appeals process plays out.

It came after the NRA filed a lawsuit against the ATF, or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, arguing that the agency’s rule to reclassify the brace-equipped pistols as short-barreled rifles is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay sided with the gun rights group, arguing that the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals already concluded that the ATF pistol-brace rule “fails the logical outgrowth test and violates” the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and is “unlawful” under the act.

“The court, therefore, sees no reason why it should not consider this argument and APA claim in ruling on Plaintiff’s Motion,” the judge added. “To not do so would be exalt form over substance, particularly since the Fifth Circuit has already determined that this claim has a substantial likelihood of succeeding on the merits.”

The judge agreed with the NRA’s arguments that its members would be substantially harmed by the ATF rule, which was finalized in January 2023.

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“Compliance with the Final Rule is not discretionary, and the NRA’s members face severe penalties for their failure to comply with the Final Rule,” Judge Lindsay wrote in the ruling last week. “Accordingly, both of the final requirements for injunctive relief are satisfied because the threatened injury to the NRA’s members outweighs the threatened harm to the Defendants, and enforcement of the Final Rule under the circumstances will not disserve the public interest.”

Pistol braces were first marketed in 2012 as a way of attaching a pistol to the shooter’s forearm, stabilizing it and making it easier to use for disabled people. However, many users found that the braces could also be placed against the shoulder, like the stock on a rifle.

The disputed ATF rule classifies some guns equipped with pistol braces as short-barrel rifles, based on several factors including their size and weight and the manufacturers’ marketing materials. Short-barrel rifles are subject to special registration, longer waiting periods for purchase, and higher taxes because officials have claimed they are potentially more dangerous than handguns.

“While firearms equipped with ‘stabilizing braces’ or other rearward attachments may be submitted to ATF for a new classification determination, a majority of the existing firearms equipped with a ‘stabilizing brace’ are likely to be classified as ‘rifles’ because they are configured for shoulder fire based on the factors described in this rule,” the ATF rule says.



NRA Wins Suit Against ATF by Tom Zawistowski is licensed under NRA Wins Suit Against ATF

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