A federal court in Texas has issued a joint status report in a Second Amendment Foundation case challenging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) alleged violations of the Administrative Procedures Act relating to its alleged flip-flop regulation of arm braces on semiautomatic pistols.
According to the report, “The agency currently expects to publish a final rule in December 2022.”
However, the report also notes all parties have agreed that proceedings in the case “should continue to be held in abeyance.” An additional joint status report will be filed on or before Dec. 28, “indicating whether this matter should remain stayed,” the report says.
“In the event that the parties are of the view that the stay should be lifted, they will include in the joint status report a proposed schedule for continuing this litigation,” according to the status report.
The lawsuit was filed in January 2021 by SAF, Rainier Arms, LLC and two private citizens, Samuel Walley and William Green. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. At the time, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb explained “the incoming Biden administration has made no secret it intends to take various regulatory actions and issue executive orders directly affecting gun owners.”
Considering all that has happened since, Gottlieb’s concerns at the time appear to have been justified.
The Court has again ordered that the case “remain stayed/suspended while ATF continues to review and prepare responses to the arm brace rule public comments. The next Joint Status Report is due on or before December 28th.”
According to the Court’s narrative, on May 21 of last year, the ATF—with plaintiffs’ consent—moved to stay the proceedings after President Joe Biden announced the Department of Justice would be issuing “a proposed rule to make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.”
About three weeks later, on June 10, the agency published the proposed rule on “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,’” in the Federal Register. The proposal provided a 90-day public comment period “during which the agency received 211,564 comments.”
The update says the agency has processed all of the comments “and is presently in the process of drafting the final rule, including preparing responses to comments and engaging in other deliberative activities.”
At the time the lawsuit was filed, SAF estimated more than 2 million arm braces were in use by private citizens including many with physical disabilities. They are primarily used on semi-auto pistols built on the AR-15 platform. Critics contend the braces are used much like rifle stocks, essentially converting the pistol to a short-barreled rifle.