In a noteworthy development, a federal appeals court has cast doubt on a Biden administration regulation concerning stabilizing braces for firearms, suggesting it was “likely illegal.” This decision has prompted the court to send the case back to a lower judge for further examination, which is a solid win for American gun-owners.
— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) August 2, 2023
Stabilizing braces, often referred to as pistol braces, are accessories attached to firearms to enhance stability and enable firing from the shoulder. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), these braces provide a larger surface area, making it easier to use the firearm from the shoulder, thereby improving accuracy.
Earlier this year, the ATF took a significant step by imposing stricter regulations on firearms equipped with stabilizing braces. This was achieved by reclassifying these firearms as rifles, subjecting their ownership to more stringent rules.
This reclassification presented firearm owners with a range of options: register the weapon, modify or remove the brace, surrender the firearm to the ATF or potentially face legal consequences.
In response, a gun rights advocacy group swiftly challenged the ATF’s move, initiating a legal battle that concluded after this week’s ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court’s decision, passed by a 2-1 majority, favored gun owners and underscored concerns about the lack of public involvement in the ATF’s decision-making process.
The Administrative Procedure Act, a legal framework requiring federal agencies to seek public input on proposed regulations, concluded the ATF had not provided sufficient opportunity for public participation in crafting the contested regulation.
Although the court recognized that a chance for public comments was provided in 2021, it observed significant discrepancies between the original proposal and the final rule. The court described the final rule as a surprising change that caught the public off guard.
Judges Jerry Smith and Don Willett argued that the ATF’s regulation could potentially infringe upon Americans’ fundamental right to bear arms, a viewpoint shared by many gun rights advocates.