The early results are in, and Americans are not happy with President Joe Biden’s plan to dismantle, register, or confiscate millions of guns equipped with a stabilizing pistol brace. At the beginning of the week, the public submitted nearly 37,000 comments on the proposal. As of Thursday night, the number had risen to over 79,000. And the vast majority appear to be opposed to the regulation.
The proposal raises all sorts of questions the ATF hasn’t answered to this point. I detailed some of them in a Member Exclusive (join today!) post this week.
But that wasn’t all that happened. Governor Greg Abbott officially made permitless gun carry the law of the land in the Lone Star State. And 22 state AGs asked the Ninth Circuit not to block a federal judge’s ruling that California’s “assault weapons” ban is unconstitutional.
Plus, a former ATF director speaks out against Biden’s pick to head the agency, the case against the McCloskeys gets resolved, a detailed look at a straw purchaser, and more in links this week!
The Biden Administration’s attempt to ban most stabilizing pistol braces is facing swift backlash.
In only five days, the rule change has received nearly 37,000 comments. That’s tens of thousands more comments than most proposals ever get, and the two other proposals in the Federal Register’s “popular documents” section have just 143 and 8 comments, respectively. The comments on the brace ban were also overwhelmingly negative, with people accusing the administration of overstepping its authority and putting millions of Americans in legal jeopardy. The Reload reviewed dozens of comments and couldn’t find any in support of the rule change.
“This is the most arbitrary set of rules I’ve ever heard of,” said Jack Ort, “and you’ll just make millions of normal Americans into felons despite a complete lack of evidence that these braces are a problem.”
The backlash could jeopardize the proposal if it grows big enough. The Trump Administration withdrew a similar proposal in 2020 after an outcry from gun makers and gun owners. The Obama Administration pulled a proposal to ban a kind of ammunition commonly used in AR-15s after it received more than 300,000 public comments opposing it.
While reporting on the ATF’s new pistol brace ban proposal, I asked the agency a series of questions that the press department told me couldn’t be answered during the public comment period. Instead, they encouraged me to submit my questions as a comment so the agents working on the proposal could review it and, potentially, answer those important lingering questions. So, I did, and I published the comment for members to check out while it’s under review. Here is some of what I asked the ATF:
First, The ATF repeatedly relies on the purported intentions of the first person to apply for approval of a pistol brace as the starting point for much of this regulation. Why did it do that instead of relying on statute?
The ATF also uses an inconsistent standard for determining the weight of a gun. When deciding whether a gun is too light to use a brace, it uses an unloaded gun stripped of its accessories. However, when deciding if a gun is too heavy to use a brace, it uses a gun with a magazine inserted all of the accessories equipped. The weight standard also raises the question of subjectivity. It arbitrarily determines weight limits based on what the ATF believes will be beneficial to helping shooters fire the gun with one hand.
Though shooters vary greatly in size and strength, the regulation offers little reasoning for why the ATF chose the weight limits it did beyond a brief discussion of the weight of an unloaded 1911 and, oddly, a loaded Glock 17.
Similarly, the regulation describes a “cuff-type” design as only capable of partially wrapping around a shooter’s forearm even though the size of shooters’ forearms varies greatly. What doesn’t fit around an ATF agent’s forearm very well may fit around the forearm of a person with a smaller build.
The regulation also raises many questions about enforcement.
Click here to read my entire comment if you’re already a member. If you want to buy a membership to access exclusive content like that, click here.
Texans will soon be able to legally carry concealed firearms without having to obtain a special permit.
On Thursday, Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1927 allowing adults over 21 years of age to carry without a permit. His signature makes Texas the 21st state to adopt the policy. It also makes Texas the largest to go permitless.
“Politicians from the federal level to the local level have threatened to take guns from law-abiding citizens — but we will not let that happen in Texas,” Abbott. said during the bill signing. “Texas will always be the leader in defending the Second Amendment, which is why we built a barrier around gun rights this session.
The law is a major win for gun-rights groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has spent years lobbying Texas lawmakers to adopt the policy. Permitless carry has taken hold in 19 states over just the past 11 years, an expansion faster than any other major gun policy. However, Texas could also represent the zenith of permitless carry’s popularity since it has been adopted almost exclusively in states where Republicans control the state legislature and hold the governorship, and there are few such states left without permitless carry.
Gun-rights advocates received backup in their attempt to defeat California’s “assault weapons” ban on Wednesday.
Twenty-two Republican attorneys general filed a brief asking to intervene in the California case Miller v. Bonta. They don’t want the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant an emergency stay that would delay enforcement of a recent ruling striking down the state’s ban while considering an appeal from the state. The group argues California’s ban on popular firearms, including the AR-15, is unconstitutional and civilian ownership of those firearms is not only legal in the vast majority of states but actually a boon to public safety.
“The experience in Arizona and other states shows that modern rifles are common to the point of ubiquity among law-abiding gun owners, and their use promotes public safety,” they said in their brief. “Calling modern rifles ‘assault weapons’ is a misnomer—they are most often used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes like personal protection or target and sport shooting.”
If the court sides with the AGs and gun-rights advocates and denies the emergency stay sought by California, the state’s assault weapons ban would become unenforceable. Californians would then be able to legally buy guns common in most other states but which they have been barred from owning since 1989. But the plaintiffs face an uphill battle since stays are often granted pending appeal in cases where significant laws are in question.
On-the-Ground Coverage of the Gun Makers Match
I will be traveling to St. Augustine, Florida, this weekend to cover the first-ever Gun Makers Match. The competition will feature guns built by their shooters using a range techniques, including 3D printing, drilling, and milling. It should provide a great deal of insight into the world of homemade guns. I’m hoping to interview a number of the competitors to provide a good picture of why people like building their own guns from scratch and how President Biden’s proposal to redefine what constitutes a firearm in order to go after “ghost guns” might affect home gun builders.
This is the first trip I’m taking as the founder of The Reload. I’m trying to keep costs as low as possible, but flights, hotels, and rental cars aren’t cheap, and the trip is going to cost over $1,200. That’s why I’m so thankful for the Reload members because their subscriptions are what make trips like this to do real, in-depth, and in-person reporting possible. If you want to see on-the-ground coverage of upcoming events including the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting and SHOT Show, please consider purchasing a membership today.
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.