Federal Court Delivers Setback To Biden ATF’s Far-Reaching Pistol Brace Rule

Katelynn Richardson on May 23, 2023

A federal court has blocked a Biden administration rule that would regulate braced pistols as short barrel rifles.

The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in January over a new rule that mandates pistol brace owners register their guns as short barrel rifles or face up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction pending appeal against the rule Tuesday “as to the Plaintiffs” in the case.

FPC says it is seeking clarification from the court on exactly who the injunction covers. Former George W. Bush appointee Judge Catharina Haynes and former President Donald Trump appointees Judge Kurt Engelhardt and Judge Andrew Oldham issued the injunction.

The rule redefines “rifle” as any weapon “designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.” To be in compliance with the new rule, owners of braced pistols must either adjust the barrel so it is longer than 16 inches, file a form and pay a $200 tax to make the firearm a SBR, remove the brace, or surrender or destroy the firearm.

“I mean, realistically, if you don’t register your gun with them in a certain timeframe and pay the $200 tax, you have to either destroy the gun, turn it in, or convert it somehow with a different barrel,” Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The injunction comes shortly before the 120 day period provided for owners to bring their firearms into compliance with the rule was set to expire.

“At its most basic level, this rulemaking represents a massive and unlawful bait-and-switch on peaceable gun owners,” said FPC Director of Legal Operations Bill Sack in a statement. “For nearly a decade the ATF’s position on pistol braces has been relied on by millions of gun owners.  Now, with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, those same people are told they are felons unless and until they submit themselves to invasive regulation, registration, dispossession of their property, or worse.”

ATF declined to comment.


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