In the ever-evolving world of President Joe Biden’s (D) new Justice Department ruling redefining braced pistols as short-barreled rifles (SBRs) under the Gun Control Act of 1968, nobody can be counted on to add clarity to the matter more than the president himself.
At a speech last weekend pushing for more restrictive gun-control laws, Biden succinctly explained how stabilizing braces directly affect ballistics and even caliber—evidently Biden thinks this is a largely misunderstood part of the equation.
“Put a pistol on a brace, and it ma- — turns into a gun,” Biden said at the Safer Communities Summit on June 16. “Makes them where you can have a higher caliber weapon—a higher-caliber bullet coming out of that gun.”
With that ballistic question finally clarified, according to Biden, there is actually some “real news” about the pistol brace rule—and it’s good news, at that. On June 13, Congress passed a House Joint Resolution to disapprove the Biden administration rule with bipartisan support.
Sponsored by Reps. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) and Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), and shepherded to the House floor for a vote by Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) HJR 44 says, “Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives relating to ‘Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces’ (ATF final rule 2021R–08F), and such rule shall have no force or effect.”
The measure failed in the senate by a vote of 49-50.
“Congress must swiftly move to block the ATF’s unconstitutional pistol brace rule, as this misguided measure turns millions of law-abiding gun owners, including many disabled veterans, into criminals for merely possessing legal firearms with stabilizing braces,” Rep. Clyde said in a press release upon the introduction of the resolution. “This abuse of rule-making authority requires either registration or a ban of pistol-braced firearms, dangerously violating our Constitution and irresponsibly disregarding Congress’ sole legislative authority.
“Unquestionably, this is nothing more than a reckless attempt to advance President Biden’s ultimate goal of an unarmed America. As a fierce defender of our Second Amendment freedoms and one of the few Federal Firearms Licensees in Congress, I’m proud to help lead the fight against the ATF’s latest assault on our unalienable right to keep and bear arms.”
The move by lawmakers comes as the rule has been challenged in various courts throughout the country. Earlier this month, the National Rifle Association filed papers to intervene in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, to obtain injunctive relief stopping the ATF from enforcing its unconstitutional rule.
In late May, that court entered orders enjoining defendants from enforcing the Final Rule against another group; however, the scope of the injunctive relief granted applied only to plaintiffs.
“The courts have already recognized other gun-promotion groups should be afforded protection from this rule,” said NRA President Charles Cotton. “The NRA now seeks to intervene—to extend the protections to the Association. The NRA is the leading provider of gun-safety and marksmanship education in the nation, so there is compelling need for the relief being sought for its members.”
In addition to this latest effort, the NRA is backing and supporting a lawsuit, Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition, Inc., v. Merrick Garland, challenging the ATF’s unlawful rule in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.
Concerning the recently passed House resolution covering the brace rule, it’s likely that the current leadership in the U.S. Senate won’t approve the measure. Elections matter and, in the next federal election, this will effectively be on the ballot.