Attorney General Brnovich: Proposed ATF Rule Weakens Second Amendment

PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to reject a proposed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) rule that weakens the second amendment by giving the ATF power to regulate firearms with attached “stabilizing braces.”

A stabilizing brace is designed to increase the safety and accuracy of a firearm. The accessory is not currently subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act (NFA). However, under a proposed rule, ATF would expand the definition of “rifle” to include pistols fitted with a “stabilizing brace,” despite ATF’s prior repeated assessment that such a weapon is not subject to regulation under the NFA. In his letter, General Brnovich details how courts have ruled against agencies from promulgating regulations that broaden the definition of statutory terms beyond the scope of Congress’s intent.

While ATF has failed to point to any widespread crime caused by stabilizing braces, it does note that millions of law-abiding citizens who own a brace could face hundreds of dollars in compliance costs, totaling more than $1 billion. ATF estimates that there were 3-7 million stabilizing braces sold between 2013 and 2020 and that 1.4 million pistols with stabilizing braces pre-installed have also been sold. ATF states that the cost to consumers of disposing of just 1.9 million stabilizing braces “would be $443.9 million.” If brace owners chose to keep and register their brace-equipped pistols, they would each face hundreds of dollars in application fees as well as a $200-per-firearm tax.  At 7 million individual braces and 1.4 million brace-equipped pistols sold, the proposed rule would cost Americans $1.68 billion in new taxes alone, much less application fees and the time and costs of procuring the photo, fingerprints, and other application materials.
General Brnovich wrote:

“ATF has no more power to suddenly declare a $200 tax and registration scheme on pistols under the NFA by changing its definition of “rifle” to include them than it has to do the same with racecars or watermelons. Congress deliberately left pistols out of the list of covered firearms in the NFA. ATF may not use the rulemaking process to wedge them in.”

Unfortunately, this type of regulatory behavior is part of a pattern of brazen and unlawful abuse of the rulemaking process exhibited by the Biden Administration.

  • Recently, President Biden extended an eviction moratorium despite publically admitting that it was illegal.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has twice issued arbitrary and capricious immigration policies without notice or comment under the Administrative Procedure Act through which they refuse to carry out federal immigration laws. Currently, General Brnovich has three lawsuits against the Biden Administration’s disregard for federal immigration laws.
  • Just last month, General Brnovich co-led a 20-state coalition urging ATF to reject a proposed rule that gives ATF the power to regulate firearm parts, despite no authority existing in the statute. 

Attorney General Brnovich is asking U.S. Attorney General Garland to reject this proposed rule and uphold the Second Amendment.

Copy of Attorney General Brnovich’s ATF letter here.

General Brnovich also joined 22-state comment letter urging ATF to reject this proposed rule to regulate stabilizing braces. Copy of letter here.