48 GOP senators demand ATF withdraw proposed rule outlawing pistol stabilizing braces

As part of President Joe Biden’s anti-gun agenda, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) recently published a proposed rule change for large pistols with stabilizing braces that would effectively outlaw them unless registered with the government under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934.

In response to that proposal, 48 Republican senators just urged the administration to immediately reverse course, as the proposed rule change, if enacted, would “turn millions of law-abiding Americans into criminals overnight,” The Daily Wire reported.

The Republican senators also argued that pistol brace rule change would constitute “the largest executive branch-imposed gun registration and confiscation scheme in American history.”

Criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens overnight

Those assertions came in a letter sent Thursday to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and ATF Acting Director Marvin Richardson that was signed by nearly the entirety of the GOP caucus in the Senate, with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rob Portman (R-OH) being the only two Republicans abstaining.

The senators wrote that enacting the new rule “would turn millions of law-abiding Americans into criminals overnight, and would constitute the largest executive branch-imposed gun registration and confiscation scheme in American history. We therefore vehemently oppose this proposed rule and urge its immediate withdrawal.”

“To one unfamiliar with stabilizing braces, ATF’s proposed rule and the accompanying regulatory analysis suggest that these braces are dangerous alterations to firearms designed to help criminals evade federal law,” the letter continued. “Nothing could be further from the truth, and ATF knows that. After all, it has repeatedly blessed their design, manufacture, sale, and use.”

The senators proceeded to discuss the background and origination of the stabilizing braces — which aid disabled veterans in managing cumbersome firearms — as well as the ATF’s back-and-forth on the legal classification of the accessory, culminating in a 2017 ruling that gave an all-clear on the devices. The ruling prompted a surge in popularity and sales of the devices among law-abiding gun owners.

Many questions for the ATF to answer

However, the senators wrote, this new rule would “yank the rug out from under” the millions of otherwise law-abiding gun owners who purchased and possess a stabilizing brace-equipped firearm — under the auspices of the ATF’s prior blessing — and transform those citizens into felons.

The senators noted that the ATF had properly submitted this proposed change to a public comment period, and The Reload reported that gun owners have made known their opinions on the proposal loud and clear, as more than 100,000 comments have been submitted over the past few weeks, virtually all in opposition to the ATF’s plan.

They also raised a number of questions regarding the implausibility of enforcement, should the rule go into effect, such as whether gun owners would be expected to, upon pain of felony for noncompliance, interpret for themselves the “vague, confusing, and largely subjective criteria” for determining whether a brace-equipped firearm was legal or not.

In addition, the senators questioned whether gun owners were expected to simply surrender such firearms — likely without just compensation — or alter or destroy them at their own cost. Further, they balked at the $200 registration fee and were critical of the fact that submitting such a firearm for review could take years for the ATF to reach a decision, and then wondered if the ATF would simply confiscate such firearms without compensation if they were ruled illegal.

“The proposed rule is worse than merely abdicating your responsibility to protect Americans from criminals; you’re threatening to turn law-abiding Americans into criminals by imposing the largest executive branch-initiated gun registration and confiscation program in American history,” the senators concluded. “We urge you to turn back. Correct this mistake and withdraw the proposed rule.”

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