Federal Judge Vacates ATF’s Pistol Brace Rule

News|Legal News

By Drew Bryant
June 15th, 2024, theloadoutblog.com

Photo from SB Tactical

Late this week, the ban on pistol braces faced a significant setback after a federal judge vacated the ATF’s rule attempting to reclassify pistol brace firearms as short-barreled rifles.

In a 12-page decision, Federal Judge Reed O’Connor denounced the ATF for overreaching when making the Final Rule, stating it was “arbitrary and capricious,” and prevented the ATF from enforcing it.

Judge O’Connor further stated, “The Court finds that the adaptation of the Final Rule was arbitrary and capricious for two reasons. First, the Defendants did not provide a detailed justification for their reversal of the agency’s longstanding position. And second, the Final Rule’s standards are impermissibly vague.”

Pistol braces have become a popular means for veterans with disabilities and others with physical limitations to partake in shooting activities. They have also been a way to keep short rifles legal as pistols and out of the SBR (short-barreled rifle) category, which would require a tax stamp. Over the years, the ATF has gone back and forth on whether pistol brace guns are, in fact, rifles or pistols. In 2023, the ATF took a definitive stand against braces with its Final Rule, narrowing the definition of what qualifies as a pistol and advising people to properly register the non-qualified pistols as SBRs.

The summary judgment on June 13th is a significant victory for gun advocates who questioned the bureau’s authority in rulemaking. The Firearm Policy Coalition was one of the 2A advocates that challenged the ATF regarding the potential rule change.

In a statement following the favorable ruling, FPC President Brandon Combs said, “The Biden Administration’s ATF hates us so much that it lawlessly acted to turn millions of gun owners into felons, but FPC and our members ran towards the fire and defeated this evil.” He also emphasized how this is a major victory for Second Amendment rights, stating, “Today’s order shows that our community can take on an immoral government and win. FPC members should be proud of what was accomplished today. We look forward to defending this victory on appeal and up to the Supreme Court, just as we have in other cases.”

This ruling will have broader implications for several other lawsuits against the ATF and its ability to circumvent Congress to make new laws as they proceed through the court system.

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