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141 Congress members urge DOJ to withdraw pistol brace guidance that ‘will make millions of Americans, incl. disabled vets, criminals overnight’

Training at the indoor firing range on Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. (Kemberly Groue/U.S. Air Force)
June 15, 2021

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), along with 140 other members of the House, sent a letter on Monday to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Marvin Richardson, urging the officials to withdraw suggested rules on stabilizing brace accessories, warning that the guidance would “make millions of law-abiding citizens, including disabled veterans, criminals overnight.”

The letter comes just more than one week after President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice introduced proposed guidance that would change the definition of a “rifle” to include any firearms with pistol stabilizing braces that have “objective design features and characteristics that indicate that the firearm is designed to be fired from the shoulder.”

The proposed rule change appears intended to reclassify AR-style pistols as rifles and, which would subject them to a more heavily regulated short-barrelled rifle (SBR) classification for rifles with a barrel length less than 16 inches.

“This proposed guidance is alarming and jeopardizes the rights of law-abiding gun owners and disabled combat veterans across the country,” the letter stated. “Should this guidance go into effect, a disabled combat veteran who has chosen the best stabilizing brace for their disability is now a felon unless they turn in or destroy the firearm, destroy the brace, or pay a $200 tax. Furthermore, it could make millions of law-abiding citizens felons overnight.”

“We urge you to take action to correct this injustice immediately by withdrawing this proposed guidance,” it continued.

The letter goes on to point out that the ATF has repeatedly acknowledged that “the brace concept was inspired by the needs of disabled combat veterans who still enjoy recreational shooting but could not reliably control heavier pistols without assistance.”

The members asserted that the DOJ’s move to regulate stabilizing braces goes against their official belief that there are legitimate uses for certain braces, making the guidance “a direct tax on disabled combat veterans” rather than an effort to curb gun violence as suggested by the department.

“We are disturbed a government agency would issue guidance that would tax and take away the ability of tens of millions of Americans, including disabled veterans, to enjoy constitutionally protected rights,” the Members wrote. “In face, the ATF seems committed to attacking the constitutionally protected rights of all law-abiding citizens.”

“The Second Amendment is the right that allows us to defend our other rights,” the letter added. “If we are to uphold the Constitution, this right cannot be infringed.”