There isn’t much Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on these days, but a Joint Resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives to disapprove the Biden Administration’s pistol brace rule passed out of the House Tuesday with bipartisan support. The measure received the backing of 217 Republicans and 2 Democrats, Reps. Jared F. Golden of Maine and Mary Sattler Peltola of Alaska. House Joint Resolution 44, as it is captioned, now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The legislation was sponsored by Reps. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), and shepherded to the House floor for a vote by Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA). Rep. Hudson spoke on the House Floor and explained the genesis of the pistol brace as an aid to combat-wounded veterans who wanted to be able to safely and accurately operate large-format pistols. He noted the rule reclassifies most braced pistols as “short-barreled rifles” subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act (NFA). This, he explained, changed longstanding determinations to the contrary, creating legal traps for those who obtained braced pistols in good faith. It is particularly onerous for U.S. servicepeople stationed abroad, Hudson noted, some of whom were unable to avail themselves of the ATF’s “amnesty” period to register pistols subject to the rule.
That amnesty period expired June 1, meaning those who did not register or surrender their affected pistols or take other corrective action became subject to felony penalties under the NFA. Estimates of the number of affected devices vary, from a low of 3 million to as many as 40 million. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives reported that it had received a mere 255,162 registration applications as of the June 1 deadline.
Multiple court challenges are pending to the rule, with limited injunctions against enforcement of the rule having been issued so far in three of them. The NRA is focusing its own litigation efforts on cases filed in the District of North Dakota and the Northern District of Texas. Requests for preliminary injunctions remain pending in those cases.
The Biden Administration, unsurprisingly, has announced it “strongly opposes” H.J. Res. 44, falsely claiming braced pistols are “particularly lethal.” In fact, there is no evidence that braced pistols are more often used in violent crime than other types of handguns. The truth, in fact, is exactly the opposite. ATF’s final rule essentially acknowledges as much, quoting a court case for the proposition that “[a]n agency need not suffer the flood before building the levee.” Nevertheless, Biden pledged to veto the measure if it reached his desk.
The House vote, however, shows there is recognition of the rule’s overreach and fundamental unfairness on both sides of the aisle. It may be that Biden will encounter more resistance from his own party and Democrat voters than he expects to ATF’s attempt to potentially reclassify millions of honest, peaceable Americans as felons for possessing firearms that were considered lawfully acquired at the time of their purchase.
The NRA thanks the hundreds of U.S. Representatives that voted for H.J. Res. 44 for their leadership in protecting the rights of millions of law-abiding persons caught in ATF’s dragnet against braced pistols.
NRA members and gun-rights supporters across the country are urged to contact their U.S. Senators and request that they vote “YES" on the Joint Resolution to block the pistol brace rule and underscore ATF’s overreach.