Biden ATF's "Pistol Brace Ban" Lifted Nationwide by Federal Judge

Dust off those pistol braces, kings. (If you even took them off to begin with.)

Biden ATF's "Pistol Brace Ban" Lifted Nationwide by Federal Judge

Today, US District Judge Reed O'Connor of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas effectively killed the Biden administration's "pistol brace ban" by granting Mock, et al.'s motion for summary judgment against US Attorney General Merrick Garland and the ATF regarding the agency's Final Rule on pistol stabilizing braces.

In 2021, the Biden ATF's controversial "Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces" rule (2021R-08F) reclassified virtually all brace-equipped firearms as NFA items and required that they be federally registered to comply with the National Firearms Act.

Stabilizing braces were, until the rule change, a popular accessory owned by millions of lawful firearm owners. Adding insult to injury, pistol braces had specifically been assessed by ATF as lawful, non-NFA-converting accessories several times in the decade before the DOJ (attempted) to reverse itself.

John Spencer, Chief, ATF Firearms Technology Branch, 26 November 2012

And so, after telling gun owners that stabilizing braces did not convert one's firearms to NFA items in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017, the 2021 ATF pulled a one-eighty and gave gun owners a choice: either register your firearms with the federal government, throw your stabilizing braces in the trash, or go to jail for a very long time. Classic.

Fortunately, ATF's ham-fisted rule didn't make it far. Virtually all major gun lobbying organizations were able to secure injunctions protecting their members against enforcement actions. Until today, members of FPC, GOA, SAF, and the NRA have all been protected against ATF's enforcement of the rule. After today, everyone is protected – because the rule is now vacated nationwide.

Note that O'Connor's decision to vacate the Final Rule is based on an Administrative Procedure Act violation rather than a Second Amendment footing. Judge O'Connor found that ATF's Final Rule was both (a) not a logical outgrowth of the Proposed Rule and (b) arbitrary and capricious.

According to the court, ATF "did not provide a detailed justification for their reversal of the agency’s longstanding position." O'Connor also assessed the Final Rule's standards as "impermissibly vague."

The DOJ is expected to appeal the decision. However, it seems unlikely that the same SCOTUS that issued the Bruen decision will be interested in reversing today's ruling.

For now — and likely for good — the "pistol brace ban" is dead.

Read the PDF opinion: [HERE]