U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- A “Joint Status Report” on the Second Amendment Foundation’s January lawsuit against the Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives over ATF’s reversal on how it would regulate stabilizing braces on pistols reveals that 211,564 comments were submitted on the proposed rule, and processing them all will “require more than 120 days.”
“In light of these developments, and in the interest of judicial economy, the parties have conferred and agree that this case and all proceedings should continue to be held in abeyance to allow Defendants to undertake these steps,” the status report said.
The update further notes, “Additionally, the parties have conferred and request that the parties be permitted to file a joint status report on or before January 19, 2022, indicating whether this case and all proceedings should continue to be held in abeyance.”
At issue is a proposed rule, posted by the defendants on June 10 at the Federal Register on “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces.” The 90-day public comment period ended Sept. 8.
As originally proposed, firearms with stabilizing braces would be regulated under the National Firearms Act the same as short-barreled rifles. This change would require a special license and $200 fee for each firearm fitted with a brace. Without the special license and fee, guns fitted with the stabilizing braces would be illegal to own. ATF published notice in the Federal Register on Dec. 18, 2020 “seeking to impose NFA controls on braces meeting certain ‘Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with ‘Stabilizing Braces’.”
SAF quickly filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division in January. The case is known as SAF et. al. v. BATFE, et. al. SAF was joined by Rainier Arms, LLC and two disabled private citizens, Samuel Walley and William Green. According to a SAF news release, Walley is a distinguished disabled Army veteran who suffered a traumatic injury while serving in Afghanistan in 2012. He was wounded by an improvised explosive device resulting in partial amputation of his right leg and left arm, and a salvaged left leg limb. He uses arm braces to stabilize firearms he shoots recreationally.
Green is a police officer who suffered a line-of-duty injury resulting in permanent nerve damage to his right hand. He also uses arm braces to stabilize firearms while he is shooting.
In addition to DOJ and ATF, the lawsuit also named acting ATF Director Regina Lombardo and Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, in their official capacities as defendants.
On May 4 of this year, the court granted an agreed upon motion for a stay, which was extended on June 15, five days after the defendants published the proposed rule in the Federal Register seeking public comment. As noted above, public reaction was overwhelming.
Now, according to SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, additional time is being sought to allow the DOJ to process all of the comments.
“Depending upon the DOJ’s final ruling,” Gottlieb said, “SAF reserves the right to amend the court filing to include provisions of the new rule.”
When SAF filed the lawsuit more than nine months ago, Gottlieb said there were “several issues at play” including alleged failure of the agencies and their officials to abide by long-established and Congressionally-mandated rulemaking requirements, threatening rights protected by the Second Amendment.
“Another issue,” he said, “is the question whether the Executive Branch has the authority to re-define stabilizing braces without approval of Congress. This is especially important to disabled persons because these devices were originally developed to benefit shooters with physical disabilities.”
Gottlieb said the past nine months have confirmed his concerns, expressed at the time the lawsuit was filed, that “The Biden administration has made no secret it intends to take various regulatory actions and issue executive orders directly affecting gun owners.”
Joe Biden acknowledged during a July CNN Townhall broadcast that he would like to ban so-called “assault weapons” plus 9mm semiautomatic pistols. SAF immediately released a 60-second message (below) highlighting Biden’s comments. His now-withdrawn nomination of gun control proponent David Chipman to run the ATF was another clear signal the president is no friend to the Second Amendment.
Stabilizing braces are now used by people with and without disabilities and more than 2 million have been sold, the lawsuit estimated.
In late August, SAF reminded gun owners about the original Sept. 8 deadline for comments. At the time, Gottlieb warned, “ATF wants to reclassify millions of stabilizing brace-equipped pistols by making them subject to the National Firearms Act. If that happens, current owners of such pistols would need to register their guns and pay a $200 tax on each one, or turn it in to the ATF, or take one of several other undesirable options.”
According to the Joint Status Report, “In the event the parties are of the view that the case should not remain stayed, they would include a proposed schedule for continuing the litigation in the joint status report.”
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