Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Gun Owners of America (GOA) are seeking a preliminary injunction against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF’s) pistol brace rule.
On February 9, 2023, Paxton and GOA filed their initial suit, at which time Paxon told Breitbart News, “[The pistol brace rule] is yet another attempt by the Biden Administration to create a workaround to the U.S. Constitution and expand gun registration in America. There is absolutely no legal basis for ATF’s haphazard decision to try to change the long-standing classification for stabilizing braces, force registration on Americans, and then throw them in jail for ten years if they don’t quickly comply. This rule is dangerous and unconstitutional, and I’m hopeful that this lawsuit will ensure that it is never allowed to take effect.”
Breitbart News reported that the ATF pistol brace rule places pistol stabilizer braces under the auspices of the National Firearms Act (NFA).
The rule was published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2023, giving owners of said braces 120 days to take one of the five following actions:
• Turn in the entire firearm with the attached “stabilizing brace” to ATF;
• Destroy the whole firearm;
• Convert the short-barreled rifle into a long-barreled rifle;
• Apply to register the weapon under the NFA; or
• Permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” from the firearm so that it cannot be reattached.
Paxton and GOA are now seeking a preliminary injunction against the rule. In so doing, they claim the ATF has done a 180 degree pivot on stabilizer braces, going from viewing them as “lawful” to viewing them as converting pistols into short-barrel rifles than need to be registered:
For nearly a decade, ATF repeatedly promised the American public that pistol “stabilizing braces”—firearm accessories that can be attached to the back of a handgun to secure it to the shooter’s forearm, making the handgun safer and easier to handle for persons who otherwise would struggle to stabilize the gun—are lawful and unregulated accessories that are not shoulder stocks and do not transform handguns into short- barreled rifles (“SBRs”) regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (“NFA”)…In fact, numerous ATF classification letters broadly opine that a pistol stabilizing brace, when added to any pistol, does not ordinarily result in an SBR…ATF has even opined that shouldering a pistol with a stabilizing brace (i.e., using a pistol like a rifle) does not transform handguns into SBRs.
Paxton and GOA contend that “the Final Rule does not represent reasoned (much less lawful) decision making. Rather, it is the handicraft of unelected bureaucrats seeking to exercise power beyond lawful limits without any oversight or accountability.”
They ask the court to intervene, noting that “intervention is therefore necessary, not only to restore order from the agency’s chaos, but also to assure this nation’s gun owners, and the American people, that they can have respect for – rather than contempt of – the rule of law.”
GOA Senior VP Erich Pratt talked to Breitbart News about the motion for a preliminary injunction, saying, “Millions of Americans are facing a shrinking deadline to register or destroy their lawfully owned brace firearms under this draconian rule from the ATF, and to that end we hope the Judge will hear their pleas and put a halt to this measure before millions of these law-abiding people unexpectedly become potential felons overnight.”
The case is Texas v. ATF, No. 6:23-cv-13 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. AWR Hawkins holds a PhD in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at [email protected].