Newsletter: Biden Brace Ban Sees Massive Non-Compliance, Drives Gun Group Signups

The President’s marque gun policy is now in full effect, and the results are underwhelming.

A huge majority of pistol-brace owners did not register their guns, as required. And the injunctions issued against the ban have driven more Americans into the arms of gun-rights groups. I detail how the failure of the ban casts further doubt on all gun registration and/or confiscation schemes.

The courts were busy this week. A federal appeals court ruled a Pennsylvania man can’t be barred from owning guns over a decades-old food stamp fraud conviction, casting new doubt on the federal law that bans non-violent felons from possessing firearms. California was also forced to pay gun-rights plaintiffs after losing a case over its attempt to discourage suits against its gun laws. At the same time, a federal judge in Washington upheld that state’s new “assault weapons” ban.

A pair of deep blue states passed sweeping new gun restrictions too. Connecticut expanded its “assault weapons” ban and barred open carry. Hawaii passed a Bruen-response law that severely restricts where guns can be carried, even by licensed carriers.

Politicians remained as busy as ever. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley outlined a unique policy for preventing school shootings while California Governor Gavin Newsom (D.) launched a national campaign for a partial repeal of the Second Amendment.

Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman also examines a New York self-defense case and explains how it shows the dangers of onerous gun licensing laws.

Plus, author Radley Balko joins the podcast to detail the big problems with forensic firearm analysis. And Jake gives us an update on the latest addition to his gun collection while I discuss the latest on my holster search.

Our cross-promotion effort with Upward News is ongoing too. Like us, they are an independent news publication that leans away from hair-on-fire sensationalism. If you’re a conservative looking for a way to stay up-to-date on politics without having your inbox flooded, you should check them out.

The entrance to the national headquarters of the ATF
The entrance to the national headquarters of the ATF / Stephen Gutowski

ATF Says a Quarter Million Guns Registered Under Pistol-Brace Ban
By Stephen Gutowski

Only a fraction of the guns affected by the ATF’s new rule were registered with the agency during the four-month grace period that ended this week.

The ATF told The Reload on Friday it has received just over a quarter million applications to register pistol-brace-equipped firearms. Registering the affected guns was one path toward avoiding possible criminal punishment for possessing the guns under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) after the agency implemented a rule reclassifying the firearms as subject to NFA restrictions. The ATF waived the tax requirement for registration to encourage owners to comply before the deadline.

Click here to read the rest.

An AR-15 lower with a pistol brace installed on it sits for sale in a Virginia gun store in the months before they were banned
An AR-15 lower with a pistol brace installed on it sits for sale in a Virginia gun store in the months before they were banned / Stephen Gutowski

Gun Group Membership Surges in Wake of Pistol-Brace Ban Injunctions
By Stephen Bole

Major gun-rights groups received a boost in support after obtaining a preliminary injunction against President Joe Biden’s pistol-brace ban.

In the final days before the ban went into effect, four separate injunctions were issued by Fifth Circuit courts blocking enforcement of it against three different groups. Members of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), and Gun Owners of America (GOA) all fell under the umbrella of the injunctions. That has generated new interest in joining those groups in the week since the grace period for registering brace-equipped guns with the ATF ran out.

SAF said it has seen unprecedented growth since District Judge Jane J. Boyle’s ruling in SAF v. ATF. The group told The Reload Thursday approximately 20,000 new members have joined since the injunction was introduced, with more than 1,000 buying a lifetime membership.

Click here to read the full story.

A gun with a pistol brace at the gun range during SHOT Show 2023
A gun with a pistol brace at the gun range during SHOT Show 2023 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Biden’s Brace Ban Shows Why Gun Confiscation Schemes Don’t Work [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

More than 90 percent of the guns equipped with pistol braces remain unregistered despite the risk of potential federal felony charges. And that should come as no surprise.

On Friday, the ATF told The Reload it received just over a quarter million registration applications for braced guns in the months before last week’s deadline. That may sound like a lot at first blush, but the ATF has estimated there are three to seven million braces in circulation. The Congressional research service puts the number at between ten and 40 million.

So, somewhere between 0.6 percent and eight percent of braces have actually been registered. That’s despite a four-month grace period where the ATF waived the $200 tax the National Firearms Act (NFA) is based around. That raises further legal questions about the validity of the rule change to reclassify braced guns as NFA items in the first place, but it also demonstrates the agency was doing its best to make it as easy as possible for people to comply with the new rule. In addition to making the process free, they also hired a bunch of new employees to process all of the applications to avoid creating an even greater registration backlog than what already plagues the NFA registry.

It didn’t work. Whichever estimate you go by, there was massive non-compliance. But that’s nothing new when it comes to schemes where the government tries to register or outlaw guns years or decades after they were initially sold.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read the rest. If not, join today for exclusive access!

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A Desert Eagle painted with an American flag on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting
A Desert Eagle painted with an American flag on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

Federal Appeals Court Rules Second Amendment Protects Non-Violent Felon’s Gun Rights
By Stephen Gutowski

The federal government can’t bar a Pennsylvania man from owning guns for life over his food stamp fraud conviction.

That’s the ruling handed down by a full panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The court found no historical basis for banning Bryan Range from buying firearms over a conviction for lying on a food stamp application in 1995. It also found he is included among those protected by the Second Amendment and concluded it is unconstitutional to block him from having guns, reversing a 2022 ruling by a three-judge panel from the same court.

“We agree with Range that, despite his false statement conviction, he remains among ‘the people’ protected by the Second Amendment,” Judge Thomas Hardiman, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote for an 11-4 majority that included two Biden, an Obama, and a Clinton appointee in Range v. AG. “And because the Government did not carry its burden of showing that our Nation’s history and tradition of firearm regulation support disarming Range, we will reverse and remand.”

Click here to read more.

A pair of AR-15s on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting
A pair of AR-15s on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

Federal Judge Upholds Washington ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban
By Jake Fogleman

Prohibition of so-called assault weapons and their accessories is consistent with the nation’s tradition of regulating “exceptionally dangerous arms,” a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan, a Ronald Reagan appointee, denied a motion for preliminary injunction filed by gun-rights advocates against Washington state’s assault weapon ban on Tuesday. Judge Bryan said AR-15s and similar firearms have caused “unprecedented social concerns” and are used “disproportionately in mass shootings, police killings, and gang activity.” Thus, they can be regulated by states in the same way previous dangerous weapons were regulated in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Click here to continue reading.

US flag and California state flag in front of a palm tree in Monterey, CA.
The California state flag flies on a pole below the American flag / Photo by Tina Chelidze on Unsplash

California Forced to Pay Gun Groups’ Legal Fees After Trying to Discourage Court Challenges
By Jake Fogleman

California’s attempt to impede gun-rights plaintiffs by heightening the threat they would have to fork over legal fees to the state has backfired.

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ordered the government of California to pay more than $550,000 to four different law firms representing multiple gun-rights organizations on Monday. The money will be used as restitution after the groups successfully challenged the state’s Second Amendment “fee-shifting” law, which would have made plaintiffs and their lawyers financially responsible for the state’s legal expenses if they challenged a gun law and didn’t win on every single claim–even if they won on most of them.

The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), one of the victorious plaintiffs, said the law “was intended from the onset to chill the exercise of constitutional rights by threatening to bankrupt those that sought to protect them.” The group cheered the Court’s decision.

“The irony is not lost on us that now it is the state of California paying our legal bills as a result of their attempted unconstitutional trickery,” Bill Sack, the group’s Director of Legal Operations, said in a press release.

Click here to read more.

A handgun on display at the Springfield Armory booth at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting
A handgun on display at the Springfield Armory booth at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

Connecticut Governor Signs Open Carry Ban, Expands ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban
By Jake Fogleman

Gun owners in the Constitution State will soon be forced to contend with a bevy of constitutionally-questionable new restrictions.

On Tuesday, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D.) signed House Bill 6667 into law. The new gun-control bill is wide-ranging. It will ban open carry, expand the list of firearms covered under the state’s existing “assault weapon” ban, expand the state’s “ghost gun” ban to include possession, limit the number of handguns that can be purchased per month, and more.

Click here to continue reading.

The Hawaiian Flag blowing in the wind
The Hawaiian Flag blowing in the wind / Photo by little plant on Unsplash

Hawaii Passes Strict New Gun-Carry Law in Pushback Against Supreme Court
By Jake Fogleman

The Aloha State will be the latest to test the Supreme Court’s resolve in protecting public gun-carry rights.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green (D.) signed Senate Bill 1230 into law on Friday. The wide-ranging bill increases application fees for new concealed carry permits, expands requirements for training, and significantly broadens the list of “sensitive locations” throughout the state where even licensed Hawaiians can’t carry concealed firearms.

Click here to read the full piece.

A handgun on display at the Glook booth during the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting
A handgun on display at the Glock booth during the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

California Governor Proposes Partial Repeal of Second Amendment
By Stephen Bole

California governor Gavin Newsom (D.) announced a plan Thursday to amend the U.S. Constitution to add gun-control measures.

Newsom tweeted out his proposal to ban so-called assault weapons and enact universal background checks, a minimum firearm-purchasing age of 21, and a mandatory waiting period. He also said states could enact further gun control on top of what his amendment would require nationwide. 

“The 28th Amendment permanently enshrines four additions to the laws of our land,” Newsom said in the video. “This will guarantee states as well the ability to enact common-sense gun safety laws while leaving the Second Amendment intact and respecting America’s gun-owning tradition.”

Click here to read the full piece.

Nikki Haley speaks to Republican primary voters at a CNN town hall in June 2023
Nikki Haley speaks to Republican primary voters at a CNN town hall in June 2023 / Screenshot

Nikki Haley Calls for Mental Health Professional in Every School to Stop Shootings, Rejects ‘Red Flag’ Laws
Stephen Bole

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley made her position on guns clear at Sunday’s CNN town hall.

The former South Carolina governor was prompted with a question on how she would prevent mass shootings in targetable areas such as “schools, shopping malls, and other areas where responsible citizens can’t really carry their firearm.” Her most distinctive proposal came in response to a question about stopping school shootings. Haley said that mental health treatment is a key component to preventing attacks before they happen, in addition to posting police at every school and hardening their physical design to protect students during an attack.

“We should have a mental health counselor at every single school. Not a guidance counselor, but a mental health counselor,” she told the audience.

Click here to read more.

Podcast: Author Radley Balko Explains Why Courts Are Starting to Reject Firearms Ballistic Analysis
By Stephen Gutowski

On this week’s episode, The Watch’s Radley Balko details the landmark decision of a Chicago judge not to allow firearm forensic experts to testify in a criminal case.

Balko said the court’s decision comes after years of criticism aimed at the field of forensic pattern matching. He argues many of the techniques made famous on shows like CSI have little scientific basis. Many, he said, are based on little more than the best guesses of examiners who are mainly just eyeballing evidence.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I talk about how far the injunctions against President Biden’s pistol-brace ban extend. Jake also tells us about his latest rifle purchase, which is a bit of a throwback. And I give an update on how I’m liking the Phlster Enigma and appendix carry.

You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the episode is also available on our YouTube channel. Reload Members get access on Sunday, as always. Everyone else can listen on Monday.

A view of the Empire State Building from Eighth Street in New York City
A view of the Empire State Building from Eighth Street in New York City / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: New York Self-Defense Case Highlights the Perils of Onerous Gun Licensing Laws [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

Between gun group activism, movement in state legislatures around the country, and litigation in various courts at every level across the land, gun licensing regimes have been under more scrutiny in the last few years than at any time in the nation’s history. A recent self-defense shooting out of New York City shows why those debates have been so hard fought and what’s at stake.

At around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, a 65-year-old Queens man identified as Charles Foehner was accosted outside his home by 32-year-old Cody Gonzalez. The 32-year-old allegedly threatened Foehner with a pointed object, later determined to be a pen, and attempted to rob him for cigarettes and money. In response, Foehner allegedly drew a revolver and shot Gonzalez multiple times after Gonzalez lunged at him with the object. Gonzalez succumbed to his wounds at the scene.

In surveillance footage of the incident obtained and released by the New York Post, Foehner can be seen with his gun drawn in one hand while backing away from the hooded Gonzalez, who appears to be feinting lunging movements from side to side with an object in his right hand. Then, the video shows Gonzalez charging at Foehner before the two men leave the camera’s view, at which point, Foehner reportedly pulled the trigger.

According to police, Foehner called 911 to report the incident immediately after the shooting and stayed on scene to cooperate with responding officers. The Queens District Attorney’s Office has not yet made a legal determination as to whether the shooting was lawful self-defense. Foehner was, however, initially arrested and charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. That’s because he did not have a permit to possess or carry the revolver used in the shooting, both of which would be required in New York City. Those charges were later significantly increased to 25 counts of criminal possession of a weapon by the DA’s Office after a search warrant served at Foehner’s residence uncovered more than two dozen firearms, six of which Foehner had valid licenses for.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read more. If not, join today to read the whole piece!

Outside The Reload

Permitless carry bill dies in Louisiana Legislature | | By James Finn

Club Q victims plan to sue over El Paso County sheriff’s refusal to use red flag law | Denver Post | By Shelly Bradbury

Illinois’ ‘Intolerable Act’ | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

Texas lawmakers closed a background check loophole, but many gun measures failed to pass | Texas Tribune | By Alejandro Serrano

Too many people in NYC are stopped, searched and frisked illegally, federal monitor says | AP News | By Larry Neumeister

The Biden Administration Still Insists That Cannabis Consumers Have No Right to Arms | Reason | By Jacob Sullum

That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear expert analysis of these stories and more, make sure you grab a Reload membership to get our exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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