Confusion grows over ATF AR pistol rule on eve of deadline

Gun Rights

With just two days to go before the Biden administration begins enforcing an anti-gun rule, new court rulings have led to confusion over how many millions of gun owners could become criminals overnight.

At issue is a new rule from the president’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives requiring gun owners to register their AR-15-style “pistols” beginning June 1.


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Under the rule, pistols with short barrels fitted with previously ATF-approved arm braces must now register their guns as short-barreled rifles under the strict National Firearms Act. Owners can also destroy the braces or even the firearms. Failure to follow the rules could lead to jail.

But this month, two groups won injunctions against the ATF, and more rulings around the country are expected as the deadline hits.

In a key case, the Firearms Policy Coalition, teamed with pistol brace maker Maxim Defense, won an injunction in Texas. It was unclear who was covered by the decision, however — the few named in the suit or all FPC members and Maxim customers.

The coalition asked for a clarification over objections from the ATF, and the court said it was for all members and customers.

FPC sent out emails claiming that by joining, “you will be covered under the injunction.”

But Second Amendment experts warned that only those who were members or customers when the suits were filed are covered.

“Anyone who can document the fact that they were a member of FPC at the time to the commencement of the suit are protected. Those who joined afterwards are not,” advised Virginia Second Amendment lawyer John Pierce.

Suits filed by the National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment advocates in other courts are expected to prompt more rulings over the next two days, potentially injecting more confusion into the issue.

“There are more injunction rulings that could well come down before Thursday, so stay tuned for more breaking news on this,” said the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which distributed Pierce’s advisory.


The issue has stirred the gun community like few others because there are an estimated 20 million AR-15 pistols in the country. While the Biden administration has highlighted the firearms, only two have been involved in mass shootings. What’s more, the ATF has repeatedly said the gun setup is legal, especially for disabled people who the brace was designed for.

“With no evidence that these two attacks were any more lethal with stabilizing braces — and with no attempt to make that case — gun control advocates haven’t seriously tried to justify the new regulation. The cost will be to the disabled Americans who will now have a harder time being able to defend themselves and their families,” John Lott Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, told Secrets.

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