February 01, 2023
By Mark Chesnut
A day after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive’s (ATF’s) new Final Rule on pistol braces was published in the Federal Register, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) on Jan. 31 filed a lawsuit challenging the new federal “law.”
The FPC lawsuit, Mock v. Garland, challenges the brace rule on the basis that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act of the U.S. Constitution. The Petition further states that even if rule doesn’t violate the APA and is allowed to stand, “the Agencies’ National Firearms Act (‘NFA’), laws, regulations, policies, and enforcement practices with respect to ‘braced pistols’ that the Agencies’ have classified as ‘short-barreled rifles’ violate the Second Amendment.”
The new rule “reclassifies” pistols with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles (SBRs) under the National Firearms Act. The result: The millions of lawful Americans who own such firearms must remove the brace, forfeit the gun to the government, destroy it or register it as an SBR before May 30. Commenting on the lawsuit, Cody J. Wisniewski, FPC’s senior attorney for constitutional litigation, takes issue with an enforcement agency writing new laws—a job more appropriate for the legislative branch.
“Federal agencies do not have the power to write new laws, and yet the ATF continues to attempt to expand its authority using the federal rulemaking process,” Wisniewski said in a news release. “This ‘rule’ is, in effect, a federal law that will transform millions of peaceable people into felons overnight simply for owning a firearm that has been lawful to own for decades. We won’t stand idly by while the ATF tramples the rights of millions of peaceable individuals.”
The FPC lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas on behalf of two Texas gun owners. The complaint states: “Once elected, President Biden ‘urged Congress to swiftly pass gun control laws[.]’ When Congress did not act to the Biden Administration’s liking, President Biden instead called upon the Agencies to dramatically expand their interpretation of the congressionally defined term ‘rifle’ to accomplish the legislative agenda Congress itself declined to adopt. The Final Rule, inspired by the Biden Administration’s promises, seeks to end run Congress and place restrictions on the ability of peaceable Americans to add minor modifications to their pistols.”
It concludes: “By subjecting common firearms and their law-abiding possessors to the extraordinary and burdensome requirements of, and restrictions under, the NFA, the Agencies’ laws, regulations, and enforcement practices violate the Second Amendment.”
Bill Sack, FPC director of legal operations, said that the ATF rulemaking was nothing more than a massive and unlawful bait-and-switch on legal gun owners, who now are in a legal tight spot.
“For nearly a decade the ATF’s position on pistol braces has been relied on by millions of gun owners,” Sack said. “Now, with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, those same people are told they are felons unless and until they submit themselves to invasive regulation, registration, dispossession of their property, or worse.”
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 over 20 years.
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