NRA slaps Biden admin with lawsuit over ‘unlawful’ pistol brace rule

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FIRST ON FOX – The National Rifle Association of America slapped the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with a lawsuit over a rule that regulates stabilizing braces for pistols.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, the NRA aims to expose ‘the failings of the new rule – which subjects law-abiding gun owners to penalties, fines, and potential prison sentences for the use of an otherwise legal plastic apparatus on some firearms.’

‘The NRA has ramped up its offense on this arbitrary and unconstitutional rule,’ NRA Executive Vice President & CEO Wayne LaPierre said. ‘We are confident in our ability to confront the ATF and [the Department of Justice] – and preserve freedom for NRA members.’

The NRA previously submitted comments in opposition to the rule, filed a motion to intervene in another legal action and supported a lawsuit by several state attorneys general filed in North Dakota. 

Pistol braces are accessories that can be attached to the rear of a gun to make it easier to aim and fire with one hand. The accessories are often used by disabled veterans. 

The ATF rule categorizes pistols with braces as short-barreled rifles, which require a federal license to own.

NRA argues in its complaint that the rule is unconstitutional, as the ATF reverses its long-standing position that pistol braces do not transform pistols into rifles subject to onerous registration and taxation requirements under the National Firearms Act.

The NRA is asking a district court in Texas for a preliminary, and ultimately permanent, injunctive relief restraining ATF from enforcing the rule against law-abiding NRA members. ATF Director Steven Dettelbach and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland are also named defendants in the lawsuit.

First announced in January 2023, the final rule was set to go into effect June 1, 2023. Gun rights groups and the state of Texas sued the government and have now been granted preliminary injunctive relief from that final rule. The NRA now seeks ‘recognition of the irreparable harm its members also face’ from the rule. The NRA has approximately 350,000 members in Texas.

According to the complaint, many NRA members are being irreparably harmed by the final rule because they are forced to modify their firearms, destroy them, register them or surrender them to the federal government under threat of criminal prosecution.

‘The NRA is pursuing every possible avenue in defense of its law-abiding members and their constitutional freedoms,’ said William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA. ‘Our members should be free of the threat of enforcement of this presumptively unlawful rule. We are confident that we will prevail in obtaining the same relief for them that has already been granted to members of other gun rights groups.’

In June, House Republicans, with the help of two Democrats, passed a resolution that would nullify ATF’s final rule and prevent the ATF from reintroducing the same rule in the future. 

The resolution is now headed to the Senate. If passed by the Senate – an unlikely scenario given the political makeup – and subsequently vetoed by Biden, the House and Senate would need a two-thirds majority vote to override the presidential veto. 

The ATF declined to comment on pending litigation.

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