(UnitedVoice.com) – In January, Attorney General Merrick Garland signed an ATF rule that dealt with stabilizing braces. These devices are added to AR-15 pistols and similar guns to allow people with disabilities to shoot the weapon with one hand. For example, a soldier who lost an arm in a war could use the brace to fire the gun. After years of debate within the ATF, President Joe Biden’s administration decided to step in and make the decision to ban them.
Gun rights organizations immediately sued the president. Now an Appeals Court has issued a blow to the administration’s attempt to ban the braces.
The pistol brace rule went into effect earlier this year. The administration claimed that the issue with them was that people were using it to shoulder their weapons as a rifle. In doing so, they could get around the government’s heightened regulations on short-barrel rifles.
The rule didn’t impact stabilizing braces designed to be used by people with disabilities by supporting the weapon on their arms. But the ones used to shoulder the rifles were under scrutiny with the new rule.
Gun owners whose weapons were reclassified as short-barrel rifles had until May 31 to comply. They had to remove the short barrel and attach it to a rifle with a barrel that was 16 inches or longer. They could have turned the weapon in at the local ATF office, destroyed the gun, or permanently removed the stabilizing brace. Those who failed to come into compliance were subject to a felony charge.
On August 1, a three-judge panel for the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the ATF’s pistol brace rule was likely illegal. The judges determined the federal agency finalized the rule without giving the American public enough time to comment on the change. That put it at odds with the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
The APA outlines the process federal agencies must go through when developing and implementing regulations. That includes publishing notices of the rules and final rulemaking in the Federal Register. It allows the public to comment on the changes.
The Fifth Circuit didn’t block the enforcement of the rule. Instead, they sent it back to US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor. He will have to decide whether to issue an injunction blocking its enforcement. If he does, then the order would impact the rule across the country.
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