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By Sarah May on
 June 2, 2023

Federal judge temporarily blocks some enforcement of ATF pistol brace rule

In a defeat – at least a temporary one – for gun control advocates at the White House, a federal judge has halted enforcement of new administration regulations on firearms equipped with stabilizing braces as applied to certain categories of owners, as Fox News reports.

A preliminary injunction was granted Wednesday by Judge Drew Tipton that partially bars the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from taking action to enforce a rule requiring individual owners to register the aforementioned pistol braces with the agency, destroy them, or detach them from the weapons themselves.

According to the terms of the rule, those who failed to achieve compliance with the rule by May 31 would be subject to a fee, upwards of 10 years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Fox News notes that the rule was promulgated by the Biden administration in the spring of 2021, following a mass shooting at a Colorado grocery store in which a firearm equipped with such a brace was used.

In support of the supposed need for such a rule, the administration also pointed to the fact that a stabilizing brace was also used in a deadly 2019 mass shooting that took place in Ohio.

Standing in opposition to the rule have been gun rights advocates who contend that the ATF rule runs counter to constitutional protections in that it mandates gun registration for millions of owners of legal weapons and makes failure to do so an instant felony.

Republicans in Congress have taken aim at the rule, with Reps. Thomas Massie (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) telling ATF Director Steven Dettelbach earlier this year, “We are concerned that your agency's new Stabilizing Brace Rule and enforcement thereof will result in millions of Americans becoming classified as felons overnight without them having any intent or having taken any action to break the law,” as Fox News noted separately.

“The Founders designed our constitutional structure to have three distinct branches,” the legislators wrote. “The branch tasked with making laws should not be the same branch tasked with enforcing those laws. Congress must be responsible for making laws, and we do not believe the ATF has the authority to enact the Stabilizing Brace Rule.”

Blasting what they viewed as the agency's imprecise and perhaps erroneous classification of weapons that would fall under the rule, the congressmen added that regardless of whether the ATF had the right to make the rule, “the executive branch has a duty to be transparent with Americans about their classifications of unlawful conduct” and as such, Dettelbach needed to “provide the public with a clear interpretation of the parameters of the rule.”

For now, as a result of Tipton's ruling, the injunction preventing enforcement will apply to members of the Gun Owners of America GOA) as well as direct employees of the state of Texas, the discrete parties involved in the instant litigation.

Among those particularly pleased with this week's ruling was Erich Pratt, senior vice president of GOA.

Pratt stated, “This assault on millions of Americans was just the latest example of President Biden trying to weaponize the [Justice Department] against law-abiding gun owners, and we doubt it will be the last.”

The pro-second amendment advocate continued, “We are incredibly grateful to Judge Tipton for hearing the pleas of our members who were facing serious prosecution simply for owning a piece of plastic – all because of an arbitrary reclassification by the ATF.”

Pratt further vowed to “continue to fight back against this rogue anti-gun administration at every turn in defense of our rights,” and whether he and his allies are ultimately successful in doing away with this particular instance of Biden overreach, only time will tell.

Written By:
Sarah May

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