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Appeals court deals blow to ATF attempt to regulate pistol braces

The judge wrote that the ATF's final rule constituted a "rug-pull on the public."

Published: August 3, 2023 8:45am

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' attempt to regulate pistol braces was dealt a blow by a federal appeals court in a victory for gun rights advocates.

Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote Tuesday in the 2-1 majority ruling that the ATF's initial rule proposed for public comment in 2021 was dramatically different from the rule that was finalized earlier this year.

He wrote that "it is relatively straightforward that the Final Rule was not a logical outgrowth of the Proposed Rule," constituting a "rug-pull on the public."

The New Orleans-based court blocked enforcement of the ATF's rule for 60 days and sent the case back to Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, a George W. Bush appointee. O'Connor will need to decide whether to block the rule's enforcement as the case proceeds and if so, whether it will apply only to the plaintiffs or to the entire U.S.

The Firearms Policy Coalition, a gun rights non-profit, two of the group's members and firearms manufacturer Maxim Defense filed the lawsuit against Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Department of Justice, the ATF and ATF Director Steven Dettelbach. 

Republican attorneys general also filed a lawsuit against the pistol brace rule earlier this year.

Pistol braces were first submitted to the ATF for review in 2012. They have been marketed as a way to allow disabled and weaker people to shoot pistols more easily by attaching to or being supported by the forearm. 

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on Twitter or Instagram.

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