Nine months after the
Second Amendment Foundation sued the Department of Justice and Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in federal court over ATF’s flip
on how it regulates stabilizing braces on pistols, the DOJ and SAF jointly
asked for a continuation of a stay in the legal action to allow processing
of more than 211,000 public comments on a proposed rule on “Factoring
Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces.”
The process is expected to
require more than four months.
Under the original
proposal, guns with stabilizing braces would suddenly be regulated under
the National Firearms Act the same as short-barreled rifles. That 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.
Back on May 4, the court
granted an agreed motion for a stay, which was extended on June 15, after
the defendants published the proposed rule in the Federal Register seeking
public comment. The comment period was 90 days, during which time the
agency was flooded with comments.
According to a Joint
Status Report filed with the court, it will take more than 120 days for
the DOJ to process all the responses. All parties agreed to the delay,
according to SAF and have requested that they be allowed to file another
Joint Status Report on or before Jan. 19, 2022.
“Depending upon the DOJ’s
final ruling,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan
Gottlieb, “SAF reserves the right to amend the court filing to include
provisions of the new rule.”
Joining in the SAF lawsuit
were Rainier Arms, LLC and two disabled private citizens, Samuel Walley
and William Green.
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. The lawsuit was filed
in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas
Division. The case is known as SAF et. al. v. BATFE, et. al.
When SAF filed the
lawsuit, Gottlieb acknowledged, “There are several issues
at play in this case. It concerns the failure of the agencies and its
officials to abide by long-established and Congressionally-mandated
rulemaking requirements, threatening rights protected by the Second
Amendment. Another issue 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
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