Federal restrictions against pistol braces still stand, affecting millions of firearms nationwide, but Wyoming and other states are pushing back.
The restrictions were announced in January by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and took effect June 1. The ATF’s ruling requires owners of firearms outfitted with braces to register them as “short-barreled rifles” under the federal 1934 Firearms Act and to buy $200 tax stamps for those guns.
States’ Lawsuit Still On
Wyoming, along with 24 other states, filed a lawsuit in February against the federal government in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota, claiming pistol brace restrictions are arbitrary.
And that lawsuit is still on, Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
“In that lawsuit, the states ask the court to declare unlawful and set aside ATF's pistol brace rule and preliminarily and permanently enjoin the ATF from enforcing that rule,” she said. “Currently, the federal court has not ruled on the states' motion for a preliminary injunction, which was filed in February 2023.”
The other states involved in the lawsuit include West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.
Eyes On Texas
There have been two successful injunctions against the pistol brace ruling in Texas courts. But so far, those have been limited in scope, applying only to Texans and members of the Gun Owners Of America.
In the latest court filings related to the states’ lawsuit against the pistol brace ruling, the states noted the success of the Texas injunctions and called for a nationwide injunction applying to all gun owners.
The ATF countered in a subsequent filing that the Texas injunctions aren’t relevant to states’ lawsuit.
It’s About Veterans
In addition to the lawsuit, the states recently sent a letter to U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, describing the pistol brace ruling as “egregious overreach” and calling on Congress to overturn the ruling.
“Pistol braces are simply orthotic devices that allow users to more safely and accurately fire handguns,” the letter states. “They were invented to help disabled combat veterans, not to assist in the commission of criminal wrongdoing. They do not convert pistols into rifles under any reasonable reading of federal law.”
The 1934 Firearms Act was implemented in response to gangsters that time using short-barreled rifles, sawed-off shotguns, submachine guns and other weapons that could be easily concealed.
‘Great Chance Of Success’
Because the states’ lawsuit was filed in February, it’s hardly gone stale, former Wyoming Attorney General Gay Woodhouse told Cowboy State Daily.
“In the legal sense, it’s not languishing at all,” she said, adding that Hill and the other attorneys general did their homework and made a strong case.
“They have some excellent claims, and it (the lawsuit) is very well crafted,” Woodhouse said. “I think it has a great chance of success.”
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.