Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney has joined numerous fellow Republicans, including North Carolina Congressman Richard Hudson and 138 others in drafting a letter to the United States Attorney General Merrick Garland, as well as the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms , and Explosives Marvin Richardson.

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The letter calls on the Department of Justice to withdraw their proposed guidance on the stabilizing braces.

On June 7, 2021, Attorney General Garland signed the ATF proposed rule 2021R-08, 'Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached 'Stabilizing Braces.' This rule amended the ATF's regulations to clarify when a rifle is "intended to be fired from the shoulder."

According to the ATF website, "The proposed rule outlines the factors ATF would consider when evaluating firearms equipped with a purported “stabilizing brace” to determine whether these weapons would be considered a “rifle” or “short-barreled rifle” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, or a “rifle” or “firearm” subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act."

Their website states that this proposed rule would:

  • Amend the definition of 'rifle,' by adding  sentence at the end of each definition to clarify that the term 'rifle' includes any weapon with a rifled barrel and equipped with an attached 'stabilizing brace,' that has objective design features and characteristics that indicate that the firearm is designed to be fired from the shoulder.
  • Set forth a worksheet, entitled 'Factoring Criteria for Rifled Barrel Weapons with Accessories,' commonly referred to as 'Stabilizing Braces.' This worksheet will aid the firearms industry, as well as the public, in understanding the criteria the ATF considers when evaluating firearm samples that are submintted with an attached 'stabilizing brace' or similar accessory.

Important to note is that the ATF website also states that, "This proposed rule would not affect “stabilizing braces” that are objectively designed and intended as a “stabilizing brace” for use by individuals with disabilities, and not for shouldering the weapon as a rifle. Such stabilizing braces are designed to conform to the arm and not as a buttstock."

Still, Cheney and 139 other House Republicans still believe this rule impedes on the rights of lawful gun owners.

In their letter, they stated that they were writing to Attorney General Garland and Acting Director Richardson to "express our deep concern regarding the recent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) notice for proposed guidance on 'Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached 'Stabilizing Braces.' This proposed guidance is alarming and jeopardizes the rights of law-abiding gun owners and disabled combat veterans across the country."

They emphasize that the ATF has continually said that 'the brace concept was inspired by the needs of disabled combat veterans who still enjoy recreational shooting but could not reliably control heavy pistols without assistance. Consequently, ATF agrees that there are legitimate uses for certain 'stabilizing braces.'

"If this is the stance of the ATF," they argue in the letter, "then this is not an attempt to curb gun violence as suggested by this proposed guidance, but a direct tax on disabled combat veterans."

They continue, writing that "Should this guidance go into effect, a disabled combat veteran who has chosen the best stabilizing brace for their disability is now a felon unless they turn in or destroy the firearm, destroy the brace, or pay a $200 tax."

Again, the ATF stated that "This proposed rule would not affect “stabilizing braces” that are objectively designed and intended as a 'stabilizing brace' for use by individuals with disabilities, and not for shouldering the weapon as a rifle."

The letter also alleges that the rule "could make millions of law-abiding citizens felons overnight."

House Republicans write that it was unclear if somebody that is currently in possession of a pistol with a stabilizing brace is expected to apply the test to a lawfully-possessed firearm.

"Additionally, and more troubling, is the omission of any outlined process for disabled veterans to report a disability exempting them from this unconstitutional process," they write.

Republicans wrote that they are "disturbed a government agency would issue guidance that would tax and take away the ability of tens of millions of Americans, including disabled veterans, to enjoy constitutionally protected rights. In fact, the ATF seems committed to attacking the constitutionally protected rights of all law-abiding citizens."

To read the full letter, follow this link.

The ATF's proposed rule can be found at their website. 

 

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