Federal judge rules Biden administration’s ban on pistol braces likely violates Second Amendment

Second Amendment

A federal judge in Texas declared the Biden administration’s attempt at banning pistol braces is likely unlawful last week. 

The lawsuit, brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) on behalf of members of the National Association for Gun Rights Inc. and Texas Gun Rights, Inc., argued the rule put forth by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), that would require 40 million U.S. gun owners to place their name on a gun registry and pay a tax, is unconstitutional. 

If gun owners didn’t register and pay the tax, they could face up to 10 years in jail and a potential $10,000 fine under the ATF rule. In addition, the rule redefined pistols with stabilizing arm braces that are often attached to handguns to make it easier for users to aim and fire with one hand, particularly disabled veterans, as “short barrel rifles.” 


The ATF “inexplicably and fundamentally switched its position on stabilizing braces without providing sufficient explanations and notice,” the opinion read. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) headquarters in Washington, D.C. ( Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


“Short barrel rifles” require a federal license to own under the National Firearms Act (NFA). The ATF estimated about 99% of pistols with stabilizing braces would be reclassified as NFA rifles under the final rule, the opinion stated. 

“The ATF provided no explanations for how the agency came to these classifications and there is no ‘meaningful clarity about what constitutes an impermissible stabilizing brace,” the opinion read. 

“Here, the ATF did not provide a detailed justification for their reversal of the agency’s longstanding position,” the opinion read. “For close to a decade, the ATF concluded that ‘attaching the brace to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to NFA control.’ The ATF changed course on this position for the first time in 2023, when it issued the Final Rule reversing the agency’s otherwise long-standing policy.”

The judge ruled that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of the case and granted WILL a preliminary injunction that will be enforced while the lawsuit is pending. 

“The Biden Administration’s attempt to ignore the law has once again fallen flat in the courtroom,” WILL Deputy Counsel Lucas Vebber said. “This new ruling protects the rights of hundreds of thousands of America’s gun-owners and law-abiding citizens. Make no mistake, WILL stands ready to protect and preserve America’s separation of powers and the Constitutional rights of all Americans.”


WILL filed its lawsuit in June, but similar lawsuits have been brought forth by the NRA and other Second Amendment groups. 

ATF police on scene

The NRA said the Biden administration’s proposed regulation “could potentially result in the most extensive firearm confiscation regulation in U.S. history.” (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The NRA submitted a response to ATF’s proposed regulation on September 8, 2021, warning it “could potentially result in the most extensive firearm confiscation regulation in U.S. history.”

NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch echoed this sentiment in a statement to Fox News Digital stating that since ATF introduced the rule in June 2021, the National Rifle Association has been working to prevent the “unconstitutional” move. 

“Through legal challenges, grassroots efforts, digital campaigns, and direct advocacy in Congress, we’ve consistently fought against what could be the most extensive firearm confiscation regulation in U.S. history,” Kozuch said. “We commend the federal judge’s recent preliminary injunction and applaud those who recognize and take a principled stand against such unconstitutional gun control schemes.”


The ATF rule is part of a comprehensive gun crime strategy President Biden announced in April 2021 after a gunman used a stabilizer in the massacre of 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

An ATF PowerPoint slide comparing two firearms

An ATF PowerPoint slide showing a firearm equipped with a stabilizing brace compared to a firearm with a commercial stock.  (Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives)

Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said his organization plans to standing up against “the federal government’s attacks on our rights.”   

“Biden’s ATF is a rogue entity, and we are proud to act alongside WILL to protect our members – law-abiding American citizens,” he said. 

Chris McNutt, president of Texas Gun Rights, said the win over ATF will send a message abuse of power will be litigated in the courtroom. 

“We are thankful for organizations like WILL who have been partners in standing up against the anti-gun Biden administration,” he said. “The fight is not over, but this victory today is an incredible step forward.”


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