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48 Senators urge Biden admin to withdraw pistol brace rule: ‘largest gun registration and confiscation scheme in US history’

A rack of various modern sporting rifles, mostly AR-15s, in Gallenson's Gun Shop, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. (Michael McConville/Wikimedia Commons)
June 25, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 47 other GOP Senators signed a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Marvin Richardson on Thursday calling for the officials to withdraw proposed guidance on stabilizing brace pistol accessories that “would constitute the largest executive branch-imposed gun registration and confiscation scheme in American history.”

The letter was in response to President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice rule proposed earlier this month 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.”

“ATF claims that the objective of the proposed rule is to ‘clarify’ which uses of stabilizing braces bring within the strict regulatory ambit of the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA)1 certain commonly used firearms that are otherwise regulated by the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA),” the letter stated.

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

“But the way the proposed rule is written makes clear that ATF intends to bring the most common uses of the most widely possessed stabilizing braces within the purview of the NFA,” the letter continued. “Doing so 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.”

Under the new classification, the process to purchase the firearm would take nearly 10 months to complete and includes being fingerprinted and photographed, registration with the ATF, a background check and a $200 federal tax.

“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. Nothing could be further from the truth, and ATF knows that,” the letter states. “After all, it has repeatedly blessed their design, manufacture, sale, and use.”

The senators explained that stabilizing braces were originally designed to “assist disabled combat veterans in shooting large pistol platforms that were otherwise too cumbersome for a disabled shooter to use.”

“This is plain wrong,” the lawmakers asserted. “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. We urge you to turn back. Correct this mistake and withdraw the proposed rule.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), along with 140 other members of the House, sent a similar letter to the Biden officials.

“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 Reps. letter continued. “If we are to uphold the Constitution, this right cannot be infringed.”