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ATF Slapped With Multiple Lawsuits After New Pistol Rule Takes Effect

Courtroom gavel. FILE PHOTO: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/Illustration

ATF Slapped With Multiple Lawsuits After New Pistol Rule Takes Effect

Bronson Winslow on January 31, 2023

A gun rights advocacy group and three US military veterans filed separate lawsuits against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Tuesday, saying its recently implemented pistol brace rule violates the Constitution.

The final rule, announced in early January and put into effect Monday, redefined a “rifle” as any weapon “designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder,” forcing pistol brace owners to register their pistols as “short barrel rifles” or SBRs with the federal government. The lawsuits challenge the ATF’s authority to implement the final rule, further claiming that the ruling is a violation of the Second Amendment.


The Washington Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed the first lawsuit on behalf of three United States Marine Corps veterans, alleging the ATF’s new rule violates the Second Amendment and exceeds the ATF’s statutory powers.

“WILL is proud to represent these patriots. The Biden Administration has no power to re-classify pistols as rifles, and we will vigorously defend the Second Amendment in federal court,” WILL Deputy Counsel Dan Lennington said in a release.

The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) filed another complaint alleging that the ATF violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by classifying pistols with braces as SBRs, a move that also violated the Second Amendment, according to the lawsuit.

“This ‘rule’ is, in effect, a federal law that will transform millions of peaceable people into felons overnight simply for owning a firearm that has been lawful to own for decades.” FPC Senior Attorney for Constitutional Litigation Cody J. Wisniewski said in a press release.

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The FPC lawsuit further says that even if the pistol brace rule does not violate the APA, the ATF’s National Firearms Act (NFA) practices surrounding the pistol brace rule violate the Second Amendment, according to the lawsuit.

The rule, which affects 10 to 40 million legal gun owners, will allow 120 days for gun owners with pistol braces to register their firearms, adjust the barrel longer than the required 16 inches, remove the brace, surrender the firearm or destroy the firearm.

Following the announcement of the rule, Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the ATF is in “confiscation mode,” saying, “If you don’t register your gun with them in a certain timeframe and pay the $200 tax, you have to either destroy the gun, turn it in, or convert it somehow with a different barrel.”


The DOJ did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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