Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of ATF Pistol Brace Rule Against NRA Members

Gun Rights

United States District Court Judge Sam A. Lindsay enjoined the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from enforcing its pistol brace rule against National Rifle Association (NRA) members on March 29, 2024.

The NRA filed its lawsuit on July 3, 2023, against the ATF, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and Steven M. Dettelbach, in his official capacity as director of ATF.

The goal of the lawsuit was to block the Final Rule’s enforcement against NRA members, many of whom the rule irreparably harmed, according to the NRA.

In the decision, Lindsay noted:

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According to the NRA, the “Final Rule vests [the] ATF with unbounded discretion to regulate stabilizing braces . . . at a severe detriment to the millions of Americans who relied on ATF’s prior rulings and acquired lawful firearms equipped with stabilizing braces.”

The NRA contended:

The Final Rule arbitrarily reverses several years of settled administrative practice and by a stroke of a pen [] redefines “pistols” with stabilizing braces as short-barreled “rifles” subject to the onerous licensing and taxation requirements of the National Firearms Act of 1934….The new definition of “rifle” promulgated by the ATF now turns on an incomprehensible six-factor test that is based on ultra-subjective criteria about a firearm’s “likely use” and the parsing of marketing materials that a gun purchaser may never have even seen.

Because of the Final Rule, the millions of Americans, including many of the nearly 350,000 NRA members in Texas and over four million members nationwide, who own a pistol and a stabilizing brace, regardless of style or caliber or type of brace, must either dispose of, alter, or register their firearms. Otherwise, they face the prospect of 10 years in prison, and large fines.

The NRA also pointed out that agencies, in rule or policy issuance, are to follow the dictates of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which the NRA alleged the ATF failed to do.

Upon issuing his decision, Lindsay “agreed with the NRA that it has ‘associational standing’ to pursue this case because it is a traditional membership organization whose members rely on the NRA to protect their gun rights,” according to the NRA-ILA.

Moreover, in the course of his decision-making, Lindsay pointed out, “The Fifth Circuit has already concluded that the Final Rule [for pistol braces] ‘fails the logical outgrowth test and violates the APA’ and ‘therefore must be set aside as unlawful’ under the APA.”

Lindsay concluded:

This court enjoins the ATF; Steven Dettelbach, in his official capacity as the Director of the ATF; the United States Department of Justice; and Merrick Garland, in his official capacity as the United States Attorney General from enforcing the Final Rule against the NRA’s members pending the final resolution of this action on the merits.

The case is NRA v. ATF, in the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a pro-staffer for Pulsar Night Vision. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010 and holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

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