On April 19, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted 23-15 to advance H.J.Res.44, which would reign in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ attempt to regulate pistol stabilizing braces. The resolution employs the Congressional Review Act, which grants Congress the authority to disapprove of new federal agency rulemakings, nullifying the rule and prohibiting the agency from enacting a similar one in the future. Astute gun rights supporters may recall the 115th Congress and President Donald Trump using this CRA to halt a last-minute Obama Administration gun control measure targeting certain Social Security beneficiaries.
H.J.Res.44 would disapprove of ATF’s rulemaking on “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,’” which essentially subjects all firearms with attached stabilizing braces to the registration requirements of the National Firearms Act (NFA). According to the Congressional Research Service, there are currently between 10 and 40 million stabilizing braces in circulation, and ATF’s new rule requires the millions of Americans who own them to dispose of, alter, or register their firearms. If they don’t comply, they will become felons and face up to 10 years in prison and large fines.
Beginning in 2012, when Joe Biden was serving as then-President Barack Obama’s vice president, ATF had recognized that stabilizing braces serve a legitimate function, and the inclusion of a stabilizing brace on a pistol or other firearm does not automatically subject that firearm to the provisions of the National Firearms Act. That’s because stabilizing braces were first designed and intended to help disabled veterans fire large format pistols. However, with the new rule the Biden Administration has reversed over a decade of agency guidance and rulings that the firearms industry and law-abiding American gun owners relied on when designing or acquiring firearms.
The NRA is putting its full weight behind fighting this unlawful rule on stabilizing braces. We fully support H.J.Res.44 and have challenged the rule in federal court. H.J.Res.44 has yet to be scheduled for consideration before the full U.S. House of Representatives. However, gun owners should know that the House Judiciary Committee will be holding an ATF oversight hearing, on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. ET, that will include an examination of the agency’s pistol brace rule. ATF Director Steven Dettelbach, who is self-admittedly “not a firearms expert,” is set to attend.