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A federal judge has issued an emergency stay blocking a new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rule requiring owners of legally bought pistol braces to register them with the agency just hours before it was to take effect.
The rule imposes federal felony charges on any pistol brace owner who refuses to register them, reports said.
Judge Drew B. Tipton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against the new rule filed by Gun Owners of America (GOA), the Gun Owners Foundation, and the State of Texas.
Tipton’s order is in response to a recent ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a comparable case. That court’s ruling prevented the ATF from enforcing the rule against plaintiffs, including customers of Maxim Defense Industries, a manufacturer of pistol stabilizing braces, and the Firearms Policy Coalition.
The appeals court decision came just days before the deadline for individuals to either register their pistol braces with the ATF, dispose of them, or remove them from their firearms. Should the rule eventually prevail, however, failure to comply could result in up to 10 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or a combination of both, Fox News reported.
The key distinction between these two cases lies in the involvement of a non-private entity, namely the State of Texas, as a party in the lawsuit. Former Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton submitted a motion for a preliminary injunction against the ATF, asserting that the pistol-brace rule would impose compliance costs on Texas law enforcement officers who possess handguns with stabilizing braces, which were previously legal.
The officers would now be required to allocate resources to register these firearms. Tipton concurred with this argument, acknowledging that Texas demonstrated standing to bring a lawsuit against the ATF and “has sufficiently shown that it will suffer irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of the Final Rule.”
Fox News noted further:
The stabilizing brace rule was introduced as part of the comprehensive gun crime strategy Biden announced in April 2021 in response to the massacre at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo., where a gunman used a firearm with a stabilizing brace to kill 10 people. In 2019, another mass murderer used a stabilizing brace in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that killed nine people.
ATF defines stabilizing braces as an accessory “that provides a surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder, so long as other factors that indicate that the firearm is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.”
The ATF’s rule, established on January 13, classifies pistols equipped with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles. These firearms fall under stricter regulations by Congress due to their combination of accuracy and concealability, which can pose a significant danger when in the wrong hands.
Biden and his administration have accused the gun industry of trying to bypass federal regulations by selling stabilizing braces, alleging that they can “essentially convert a pistol into a short-barreled rifle.”
According to the ATF, there are at least three million firearms equipped with stabilizing braces in circulation within the United States. However, estimates provided by the Congressional Research Service suggest that the current number of stabilizing braces in circulation ranges between 10 million and 40 million.
Gun rights organizations have presented arguments in court asserting that the rule concerning the braces unconstitutionally requires millions of gun owners to register their firearms or potentially face criminal charges.
Tipton’s injunction specifically extends to individuals who are employed directly by the state of Texas or its agencies, as well as all members of Gun Owners of America.