May 21, 2021
By Mark Chesnut
According to information on the White House website, the U.S. Department of Justice sent President Joe Biden its proposal on regulating pistol stabilizing braces earlier this week, a document that is expected to be a direct assault by the administration on America’s law-abiding gun owners.
As most Firearms News readers likely remember, in early April Biden directed the Justice Department to prepare a proposal to ban the devices, which many people use for sport shooting and self-defense. While the proposal hasn’t been made public, it appears that Biden will set the dangerous precedent of banning or tightly regulating these gun parts outside the legislative process, which could lead to further damaging rulemaking in the future.
At the end of 2020, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) proposed regulating stabilizing braces. However, the reaction from pro-gun groups and gun owners was so swift and strong that the agency quickly rescinded proposed the rulemaking.
Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), said if this scheme is anything like the earlier one, his organization will certainly oppose it.
“We are very concerned,” Oliva said in an exclusive interview with Firearms News. “This is something the ATF attempted to visit back in December, and they pulled their proposal then. That proposal was very problematic. It was full of subjective definitions that were going to be very difficult for manufacturers to follow and for gun owners to be able to abide by. So we’re very concerned where this is leading.”
Oliva said near the top of NSSF’s concerns is whether the president and the Justice Department even have the authority to make such a change.
“And again, we have questions about the authority of the ATF to do this over Congress,” he said. “Congress is the one that’s supposed to write laws, and the 1934 National Firearms Act is a law. So, it becomes a part of examination of when and how these rules are going to be proposed and where the Department of Justice and the ATF draws the authority to expand some of these definitions.”
In the end, we’ll have to wait until the administration chooses to release the details of the latest proposal. Until then, we can only guess at what the final action will be.
“Our expectation is that they’re going to want to try to reclassify them under the 1934 NFA,” Oliva said. “I really have no faith that this administration is going to provide us with anything that is going to be easier to define and easier to work with than what we already had seen before. I can only imagine that it’s going to be more difficult, more problematic, and will attempt to again chip away further at the Second Amendment rights or those of us who abide by the law.”
Oliva said that like all such gun control proposals, this one will ignore the main point that those on the gun-ban side of the equation seldom seem to acknowledge.
“Nothing in these proposals does anything to take guns away from criminals or put criminals in jail,” he concluded. “I’m still waiting to see that proposal.”
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 the past 20 years.