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A federal judge in Texas is the latest to slam the gavel down on a Biden administration effort to enforce a gun control provision, ruling it is likely unconstitutional.
The ruling last week against a ban on pistol braces came as a result of a lawsuit filed against the measure by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) on behalf of members of the National Association for Gun Rights Inc. and Texas Gun Rights, Inc., Fox News reported.
The suit argued that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) requiring some 40 million gun owners to put their names in a gun registry and pay a tax violates the Constitution’s Second Amendment infringement clause.
Fox notes that if gun owners refuse to register and pay the tax, they could be hit with a 10-year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines under the rule. Also, the rule redefined pistols with stabilizing arm braces that are most often attached to handguns to make them more controllable and easier to fire with one hand, particularly for disabled vets, as “short barrel rifles.”
The ATF “inexplicably and fundamentally switched its position on stabilizing braces without providing sufficient explanations and notice,” the ruling said.
“Short barrel rifles” can only be owned after obtaining a federal license under the National Firearms Act. According to the ATF, some 99 percent of pistols with stabilizing braces would be reclassed as rifles under the final rule, according to the judge’s opinion.
“The ATF provided no explanations for how the agency came to these classifications and there is no ‘meaningful clarity’ about what constitutes an impermissible stabilizing brace,” the opinion read.
“Here, the ATF did not provide a detailed justification for their reversal of the agency’s longstanding position,” the opinion continued. “For close to a decade, the ATF concluded that ‘attaching the brace to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to NFA control.’ The ATF changed course on this position for the first time in 2023, when it issued the Final Rule reversing the agency’s otherwise long-standing policy.”
The federal judge ruled that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their case and thus granted WILL’s request for a nationwide preliminary injunction while the lawsuit continues to wind its way through court.
“The Biden Administration’s attempt to ignore the law has once again fallen flat in the courtroom,” WILL Deputy Counsel Lucas Vebber said. “This new ruling protects the rights of hundreds of thousands of America’s gun-owners and law-abiding citizens. Make no mistake, WILL stands ready to protect and preserve America’s separation of powers and the Constitutional rights of all Americans.”
The group filed its lawsuit in June, but since then, similar suits have been filed by the NRA and other pro-Second Amendment organizations, Fox News reported.
In September 2021, the NRA submitted a response to the proposed ATF rule, arguing it “could potentially result in the most extensive firearm confiscation regulation in U.S. history.”
NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch repeated that sentiment in a statement to Fox News. He also said the gun rights org would be continuing its legal battle to stop the rule from being enforced.
“Through legal challenges, grassroots efforts, digital campaigns, and direct advocacy in Congress, we’ve consistently fought against what could be the most extensive firearm confiscation regulation in U.S. history,” Kozuch said. “We commend the federal judge’s recent preliminary injunction and applaud those who recognize and take a principled stand against such unconstitutional gun control schemes.”
Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said his organization would be fighting the rule too.
“Biden’s ATF is a rogue entity, and we are proud to act alongside WILL to protect our members – law-abiding American citizens,” he said.