Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed for an injunction to prevent a rule put into place by Biden’s lawless Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) criminalizing the pistol brace.

A pistol brace, also known as a stabilizing brace, is an accessory that attaches to the rear of the gun and allows the firearm, one that is technically a pistol, to be fired one-handed. These have been legal since their invention in 2010. However, on January 31, 2023, an ATF rule went into effect that classifies a pistol with a pistol brace as a “short-barreled rifle (SBR),” that is, a rifle with a barrel that is shorter than my…sorry, I meant to say 16 inches. The rule is complicated, but you have a few options:

  • Permanently remove or alter the brace so that it can’t be reattached
  • Add a barrel longer than 16 inches
  • Use an e-Form 1 or paper Form 1 to register it as an SBR
  • Turn it in to your local ATF office
  • Destroy the firearm

Here are a couple of videos explaining what a pistol brace is and how to comply with it.

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The law allows the newly defined SBR to be made legal by paying a $200 one-time fee. But as Reason helpfully points out, that isn’t as easy as it might sound.

But what about the 24 states that independently prohibit possession of short-barreled rifles unless they have been registered with the federal government? If gun owners who live in those states comply with the ATF’s new registration requirements, they will be providing evidence that they had previously violated those laws.

I’m ambivalent about pistol braces; in fact, I can even see how some midwit in the AFT decided that a pistol with a brace was the same as a pistol with a buttstock regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 despite ATF’s previous ruling. But if anyone asks me why anyone needs one, I’d happily quote Kurt Schlichter, “Because f*** you, that’s why.”

Attorney General Ken Paxton, fresh off his win in the Fifth Circuit against the Trump Administration’s bump stock ban (Bump Stock Ban Overturned by the Fifth Circuit Setting up a Supreme Court Battle) — the Department of Justice didn’t bother to appeal the ruling — has decided to go after the pistol brace rule, too.

After the Biden administration issued the stabilizing brace ban, a slew of gun owners and organizations dedicated to protecting Second Amendment rights filed suit challenging the regulation. More than 20 Republican-led states filed a lawsuit in a federal court in North Dakota, and Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with two gun rights groups, sued separately in a federal court in Texas.

Now, Paxton is moving his case forward with a motion for a preliminary injunction he filed earlier today, seeking to freeze the law while litigation proceeds. In his motion, Paxton stresses that the regulation purports to make millions of law-abiding Americans criminals by virtue of their possession of a stabilizing brace and pistol after May 31 — including even those who seek to register the accessory with ATF, since the ATF processing backlog renders it inconceivable that the gun owners will meet the registration deadline.

Paxton argues the regulation unconstitutionally taxes citizens for exercising their Second Amendment rights, is arbitrary and capricious, and is unconstitutionally vague. Texas’ top lawyer also stresses that since their introduction just over a decade ago, an estimated 10 million or more stabilizing braces have been sold, making them far from uncommon and thus protected by the Second Amendment.

The main focus of Paxton’s motion, however, mirrors the one stressed in the lawsuit his sister states filed in North Dakota: that to legally qualify as a rifle, the gun must be designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder, while the Biden administration’s regulation classified guns as rifles if the design allows them to be fired from the shoulder.

The ATF exceeded its authority by redefining “rifle” in its stabilizing-brace regulation, the Texas attorney general argues. The regulation is also arbitrary and capricious and unconstitutionally vague, with the six-factor analysis providing little guidance to ordinary Americans as to whether their continued possession of the accessory will make them a felon.

Paxton presents a solid legal analysis, making it likely that an injunction will be forthcoming — either in the Texas case, presided over by Trump appointee Drew Tipton, or in the North Dakota case, where George W. Bush appointee Daniel L. Hovland has before him a similar motion.

Texas vs ATF by streiff at redstate on Scribd

What is really at work here is the old boiling-the-frog tactic. They are attacking weapons accessories rather than weapons to avoid legal challenges and to get gun owners used to the ATF regulating those items. I think there is a more nefarious strategy at work here beyond desensitizing gun owners to ATF bullying. The ATF has suddenly become aggressive about redefining weapons. In the bump stock case, they claimed that it made a semi-automatic rifle into an automatic one. With the pistol brace rule, they are blithely declaring that a pistol may if you turn down the lights and look at it just right, be a rifle. What both rules are calculated to do, in my opinion, is to encourage people to ignore them and then hammer gun owners with federal felony convictions.

Paxton is headed to court in a friendly federal district and will probably prevail. If the ATF defends this rule, it is headed to the Supreme Court, along with the bump stock case, where the Second Amendment is in favor and “Chevron deference,” the legal doctrine that says courts should defer to executive agency interpretations of the law, is not.

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