The rule, announced on Friday, was developed after a directive from President Joe Biden to regulate the use of such braces, which he said could effectively turn pistols into short-barreled rifles. According to the National Firearms Act, a weapon classified as a short-barreled rifle needs a federal license.
“Keeping our communities safe from gun violence is among the Department’s highest priorities,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Today’s rule makes clear that firearm manufacturers, dealers, and individuals cannot evade these important public safety protections simply by adding accessories to pistols that transform them into short-barreled rifles.”
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) followed Biden’s directive and developed the rule, which was submitted to the Federal Register on Friday. The rule will require owners of stabilizing braces to register their guns as short-barreled rifles.
“This rule enhances public safety and prevents people from circumventing the laws Congress passed almost a century ago. In the days of Al Capone, Congress said back then that short-barreled rifles and sawed-off shotguns should be subjected to greater legal requirements than most other guns,” ATF Director Steve Dettelbach said.
The DOJ also said gun owners could return their braces or surrender “covered short-barreled rifles to ATF.”
The rule was widely criticized by Second Amendment groups as well as Republicans.
Senior Vice President of Gun Owners of America (GOA) Erich Pratt said that his group’s legal arm would be filing a suit to challenge the rule, noting that pistol braces are used by disabled individuals to safely use handguns.
“President Biden just initiated the largest federal gun registration scheme in our nation’s history without even the passage of a new law. GOA is actively working with Congress to pass a resolution blocking this rule under the Congressional Review Act,” said Aidan Johnson, the director of federal affairs for GOA.
The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to nullify regulations within 60 days of their proposal.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) said that the Biden administration had chosen to “shred the Constitution” with the new regulation.
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) called the rule an “ unacceptable attack” on the Second Amendment and law-abiding Americans. “The ATF’s announced rule on pistol braces today is nothing short of a massive executive branch-imposed gun registration and confiscation scheme,” he said on Twitter.