Blog 8/04/23

Weekly Spotlight 8/4/23 – 8/10/23

Federal Court of Appeals Deals Blow to ATF Pistol Brace Rule

The legal battle over a rule set forth by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) continued this week.  Ever since the federal agency finalized its rule governing pistol braces, it has been met with heavy pushback from gun owners, lawmakers and Second Amendment organizations, and rightfully so.  As we’ve covered previously, the rule reclassifies pistols with attached stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles, making them illegal to own under the National Firearms Act of 1934.  If the millions of Americans who own these types of guns do not register, turn in, or destroy them, they’ll be subject to serious criminal penalties.  The rule is a clear violation of the ATF’s constitutional authority. 

Fortunately, the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the pistol brace rule is “unlawful” because it is “legislative in character” and therefore outside of the ATF’s rightful enforcement capacity.  The ruling protects a specific segment of pistol brace owners who are part of organizations that brought the lawsuit forward, and the case will be sent back to a district judge to determine the rule’s legality for pistol brace owners not directly involved in the litigation. 

In his opinion for the Fifth Circuit court, Judge Jerry Smith said, “The Final Rule affects individual rights, speaks with the force of law, and significantly implicates private interests,” for which reasons the rule is fundamentally legislative and therefore unconstitutional.  This sends a strong signal that the rule will ultimately be sent to the dustbin of history where it belongs.  And with reports indicating that very few pistol brace owners had complied with the rule when it took effect earlier this year – even when the $200 registration tax was waived by the ATF – it’s clear that law-abiding gun owners agree. 

The power to create laws belongs to Congress and state legislatures alone, not the federal bureaucracy.  The pistol brace rule flies in the face of that constitutional reality, and yet the Biden-led ATF proceeded with its implementation despite its shaky legal footing.  Had there been zero pushback from the Second Amendment community, it’s possible that the ATF would have already started arresting responsible and law-abiding gun owners simply for owning an accessory they were told for years was completely legal. 

The USCCA-FSL supports the repeal of the ATF’s pistol brace rule, whether it’s through Congress stepping in or the federal courts deciding its fate.  We will always stand on the side of the Constitution and of the millions of law-abiding gun owners who feel their rights are being threatened.   

Write a letter to your Representative and Senator OPPOSING the ATF rule!


Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Saturday signed into law a measure that seeks to block state and local officials from closing gun stores during disasters declared by the governor, unless such closures apply to all other businesses. Regarded as a win for Second Amendment supporters and Alaska residents, House Bill 61 — which was championed by Republican House Speaker Cathy Tilton and backed by the NRA — came in response to business closures in Alaska and other states during the coronavirus pandemic and protects a plethora of firearm businesses throughout the state.

The ATF broke the law when crafting its rule requiring the destruction or registration of guns with pistol braces. That’s the ruling a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel handed down on Tuesday. In a two-to-one ruling, the panel found the ATF exceeded its authority in trying to reclassify braced guns and subject them to greater regulation under federal law. It determined the agency had illegally crossed the line from enforcing to legislating, and the resulting rule “must be set aside as unlawful or otherwise remanded for appropriate remediation. The Final Rule affects individual rights, speaks with the force of law, and significantly implicates private interests,” Judge Jerry E. Smith wrote for the majority in Mock v. Garland. “Thus, it is legislative in character.”

A man attempting armed robbery of a gas station in Michigan was stopped in his tracks by an armed customer of the store. Village of Cassopolis Police were dispatched to an armed robbery and shooting at a Marathon gas station around 9:45 PM last Thursday. Upon arriving on the scene, they found a man with multiple gunshot wounds being held at gunpoint by another man. The police determined that the wounded man entered the gas station in an attempt to rob it at gunpoint. A customer in the store who was armed and had a valid Michigan concealed carry permit witnessed the attempted robbery. He drew his concealed carry gun and fired at the robber, hitting him multiple times. He then held the wounded man at gunpoint until the police arrived.

Gun owners in Illinois are dealing with a world of unconstitutional gun laws. Aside from the 2nd Amendment challenges to a semi-automatic firearm and magazine ban, which has gone through the southern and northern districts and is now in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, they may also be dealing with a 5th Amendment violation issue. The gun and magazine ban does not just prohibit the sale of certain semi-automatic firearms and magazines; the ban also requires a self-registration registry. Registration requirements start in October.