January 31, 2023
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) new rule concerning firearms with pistol braces is drawing fire from some unexpected places. As a little background, the rule reclassifies pistols with a stabilizing brace 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 or register it as an SBR, paying the required $200 tax.
That’s not sitting well with some in law enforcement, however. In the past few days, several county sheriffs in Oklahoma, including those from the state’s two most populated counties—Oklahoma and Tulsa—have begun voicing their concerns, sending letters to their constituents explaining how they believe the rule to be unconstitutional and saying they don’t plan to enforce it.
“This rule was signed almost two weeks after the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the ATF prohibiting ‘bump stocks,’” Tulsa County Sheriff Vince Regalado said in a letter to his constituents. “The Court stated that only Congress has the legislative authority to create or change laws and that the ‘bump stock’ does not meet the federal definition of a machine gun.”
Regalado said the new pistol brace rule is yet another example of federal overreach, just like the now-blocked ban on bump stocks. “Once again, we are witnessing federal overreach that will not impact the criminal element but only the law-abiding citizens rights under the Constitution of the United States of America,” he concluded. “Therefore, it is the stance of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office that we will not enforce, partake or support this rule because it is unconstitutional.”
Payne County Sheriff Joe Harper was even more pointed in his letter to county residents. “If a Payne County deputy encounters someone possessing a firearm with a stabilizing pistol brace and that citizen is not using it in the commission of a crime, then no action will be taken in regard to this most recent DOJ rule,” Harper wrote. “The Payne County Sheriff’s Office will not participate in the confiscation of firearms based on this DOJ ‘rule’ nor will they attempt to enforce any federal guidelines or rules that conflict with Oklahoma State statutes which we are sworn to uphold.”
Of course, sheriff’s vowing not to enforce unconstitutional laws is nothing new. Currently in Illinois, 85 of the state’s 102 sheriffs have vowed to not enforce the state’s new ban on semi-automatic rifles and accompanying registration requirements. In fact, a constitutional sheriffs movement, which has grown over the past few years, has drawn the ire of liberal groups, who call them “radicalized” and say they “promote disinformation.” The Southern Poverty Law Center—a left-leaning group that proclaims itself arbiter of who is and who isn’t a terrorist—even has a 2,600-plus word feature on its website explaining the danger of sheriffs who follow their oath to uphold the Constitution.
Oklahoma sheriffs, however, aren’t the only state officials concerned about the pistol brace rule. Republican State Sen. Nathan Dahm sees the rule as a gross overreach and has filed legislation, Senate Bill 818, to protect the Second Amendment rights of Oklahomans.
“The feds are continually looking for ways to circumvent the Constitution and trample our fundamental rights,” Dahm said when filing the measure. “The arbitrary and onerous pistol brace rule set by ATF—an agency filled with unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats—is just the latest example. We clearly cannot count on those in the swamp to protect our rights, so we must do it ourselves.”
The Supremacy Clause to the U.S. Constitution establishes that the Constitution and federal laws made pursuant to it constitute the “supreme Law of the Land” taking priority over conflicting state laws. However, rules like the ATF pistol brace rule were made by an enforcement agency, not passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, so weren’t made pursuant to the Constitution.
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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