Fifth Circuit rules against ATF in agency’s recent ban on pistol braces

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The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that a Biden Administration regulation targeting stabilizing braces for firearms is likely illegal.

The court sent the case back to a district judge for review, because of the likely unconstitutionality of the regulation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF), which is requiring people to register those accessory braces if they are attached to guns.

Stabilizing braces, also known as pistol braces, improve the stability of handguns by allowing them to be fired from the shoulder. In January, the ATF reclassified guns equipped with these braces as rifles requiring registration. Only a fraction of Americans have complied with the ATF’s registration rules for pistol braces.

Americans who possess firearms with stabilizing braces were given several options by the ATF earlier this year, including registering their weapons, modifying or disposing of the braces, handing the firearm over to the ATF, or facing potential criminal charges.

The ATF’s decision sparked strong opposition from gun rights groups, and the Firearms Policy Coalition challenged the regulation in court, winning the appeal last week because the public did not have adequate time to weigh in on the regulation. Failure to seek public input is a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Judge Jerry Smith, who authored the majority opinion, noted that ATF did have a public comment period in 2021, but the final regulation is completely different from the initial proposal, essentially blindsiding the public. The court, ruling 2-1 in favor of the Firearms Policy Coalition, raised concerns that the ATF regulation might infringe upon Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Cody Wisniewski, the attorney for the Firearms Policy Coalition, hailed the ruling as “a huge win for peaceable gun owners across the nation.”

The court’s decision ensures that the preliminary injunction against the ATF’s pistol brace rule remains in effect, preserving the status quo until the district court reevaluates the case within the next 60 days.

In February, Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor signed onto a lawsuit to push back on the ATF for its onerous regulations relating to pistol braces.

Taylor joined a coalition of 24 states in a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

13 COMMENTS

  1. For most, nothing has changed. If you are not a member of a few plaintif groups, which most Alaskans aren’t, then you can still be charged with a felony if you show up at a range with a braced AR pistol when an ATF dweeb is there.

    • Cannot understand why everyone is not a member of the Second Amendment Foundation. It is not terribly expensive, $20 a year?
      Sign up, get protected, support gun rights.

  2. The Biden administration operates much like our local Anchorage Assembly. Make a rule they want, disregard the citizens, then wait for the challenge. Not a good way to rule. That’s nothing more than taking advantage of your office to promote a personal agenda.

  3. “Stabilizing braces, also known as pistol braces, improve the stability of handguns by allowing them to be fired from the shoulder.”

    That is wildly incorrect.

    Braces allow the handgun to be braced against, upon, or with the arm.

    Please correct the article.

  4. Suzanne, pistol braces are NOT designed to allow handguns to be “fired from the shoulder” despite the fact that some people certainly do use them in that way. Their intended method of operation is to be strapped to the forearm to provide more stability when firing an AR-type pistol with one hand.

  5. Just wait until chevron deference gets overturned in the Supreme Court. Then liberals won’t be able to use these three letter agencies to create “rules” aka illegal laws, out of thin air.

  6. Mark my words, the Biden regime will be coming after bump stocks next. How unamerican can they be?

    DJT 2024!!

    • Did you forget to paste a sarcasm emoji at the end of your post? That happened under the Trump administration. Not a peep from the NRA but GOA tried to stop it in the court system. Also not a peep from POTUS Donald. Business in DC as usual.

    • @Hill

      DJT was all smiles the day he took away the bump-stocks…

      But here you are, calling out Biden…

      Try educating yourself on the subject before spewing stupid MAGA-speak…

  7. Banning scopes on rifles has been on the table for years. They won’t stop at pistol braces. Any attachment they don’t like will be subject to the new reg. Very few gun owners join 2a orgs, even less contact their reps. We get the government deserve. And then we whine about it.

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