ATF Pistol Brace Rule Partially Blocked By Judge

A prospective rule restricting access to pistol braces was temporarily suspended by a federal judge this week. The ruling by Judge Drew B. Tipton partially prevented the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from enforcing its new rule, representing a setback to the Biden administration’s firearms policies.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas judge’s ruling prevented the implementation of restrictions on pistol stabilizing braces. The rule states that owners of the braces must register them with the ATF or face felony charges. 

The agency stated that violators of the rule would face “up to 10 years’ imprisonment or $10,000 in fines or both.”

Tipton’s ruling came after an injunction request from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who argued that the ATF’s regulation would “inflict compliance costs on Texas police who own previously legal handguns with stabilizing braces and must now expend resources to register those weapons.”

The judge partially granted the legal effort, stating that members of Gun Owners of America (GOA) and employees of the state of Texas would not be required to acquiesce to the ATF’s law. The decision will stand until the current Mock v. Garland case is resolved.

Currently, the ATF estimates that there are three million braces nationwide while the Congressional Research Service believes that there are up to 40 million pistol braces in Americans’ possession.

The ATF’s change was due to their interpretation that the brace allowed owners of certain firearms, including AR platforms, to effectively make their pistols into short-barreled rifles.

The rule was finalized in January and would represent one of the most sweeping changes in years to federal firearms policy through bureaucratic means rather than through an act of Congress.

COA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt said that the pistol brace rule was an “assault on millions of Americans” and part of a wider effort by President Joe Biden to “weaponize” the Department of Justice against legal gun owners. 

Pratt thanked Tipton for hearing the argument “of our members who were facing serious prosecution simply for owning a piece of plastic.”