May 27, 2023
A lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s rule redefining braced pistols as short-barreled rifles (SBRs) regulated under the National Firearms Act is paying dividends—and things might soon get even better.
The lawsuit, Mock v. Garland, was filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and seeks to have the new Justice Department rule struck down for violating both the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act. As FPC pointed out in the lawsuit, the rule would transform millions of peaceable people into felons overnight simply for owning a firearm that has been lawful to own for a decade, unless they either destroy their constitutionally protected property or comply with the NFA’s onerous and unconstitutional requirements.
On May 19, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an Injunction Pending Appeal in the case. The court’s order stated, “It is ordered that the appeal is expedited to the next available Oral Argument Calendar. It is further ordered that Appellants’ Opposed Motion For a Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal is granted as to the Plaintiffs in this case.”
While the order seems to mean that the law does not now apply to only the plaintiffs in the case—two gun owners, a company that makes pistols with stabilizing braces and the FPC—the organization is seeking further guidance on that matter. So, while the ruling is certainly progress in the battle against ATF overreach, it doesn’t relieve the majority of American gun owners from the punitive rule at this time.
“We are very excited and encouraged by the Fifth Circuit's decision this morning,” said Cody J. Wisniewski, senior attorney for constitutional litigation at the FPC Action Foundation. “We intend to ask the Court for additional information about who is covered under the injunction, but cannot stress enough just how important this decision is. The fight is far from over, but this is a huge victory in the battle against the ATF's unconstitutional and unlawful brace rule!”
Since the beginning of his presidency, banning or tightly regulating pistol braces and their use has been near the top of President Joe Biden’s gun-control wish list. However, like other new rules Biden has prompted the ATF to make, this one runs afoul of the Second Amendment, especially considering the new criteria set down in the Bruen decision.
Before announcing the new rule, the ATF had on several occasions over the past decade said that stabilizing braces on AR-style pistols did not make them an SBR and should not be regulated under the NFA. Apparently, Biden pushed the matter until the poorly-thought-out brace rule was finally shoved down gun owners throats in mid-January.
At the time, FPC and a number of other pro-gun organizations immediately began preparing lawsuits challenging the rule. Now, American gun owners can only watch and see what happens as the rule is considered by the courts at the next level.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for nearly 25 years.
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