The ATF's rule, implemented earlier this year, aimed to penalize the estimated 40 million U.S. pistol brace owners who refused to reclassify their weapons as short-barrel rifles. This reclassification requires government registration and a $200 tax stamp or the destruction of the pistol brace.
The plaintiffs in Britto v. ATF, described as "three decorated Marine veterans" and represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), argued that the rule infringed upon the Second Amendment and was "void for vagueness."
Kacsmaryk agreed with this argument, highlighting the undue financial burden on both gun owners and pistol brace manufacturers. He noted that the ATF admitted the 10-year cost of the rule exceeded one billion dollars and could force certain manufacturers reliant on stabilizing braces to cease operations.
While expressing sympathy for the ATF's concerns about public safety in the aftermath of tragic mass shootings, Kacsmaryk emphasized that addressing public safety concerns must be done within the bounds of the law, which the ATF's rule failed to do.
A win for all pistol brace owners in America
This decision marked a significant development in the legal battle, as it extended the injunction to all pistol brace owners nationwide, not just the plaintiffs involved in the case.
WILL Deputy Counsel Dan Lennington said: "This new federal ruling protects the 2nd Amendment Rights of millions of Americans. WILL is proud to work alongside our clients and blaze a trail against this unconstitutional federal action."
The "Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached 'Stabilizing Braces'" rule was introduced by the ATF in response to an executive order from President Joe Biden directing the agency to address pistol braces.
The ATF categorized all braced pistols on the market as short-barreled rifles (SBRs) and subject to the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA).
Gun owners were presented with limited options, including registering their firearms with the ATF, replacing the barrel to exceed 16 inches, removing the brace (rendering it non-reusable), or turning the firearm over to the ATF.
Failure to comply could lead to felony charges with a 10-year prison sentence, equivalent to owning an unregistered machine gun.
The judge's decision to issue a nationwide stay hinged on several factors.
Firstly, the likelihood of the plaintiffs succeeding in their challenge was considered, particularly drawing on a previous ruling in the Mock v. Garland case, where the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) claimed that the ATF had exceeded APA boundaries.
The judge concluded that the ATF rule was "not a logical outgrowth of the Proposed Rule" and must be set aside as unlawful.
Secondly, the judge examined whether the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm without an injunction.
One of the plaintiffs, Gabriel A. Tauscher, a Marine with a partially paralyzed arm due to a combat injury, highlighted the need for stabilizing braces for individuals with physical disabilities.
The judge also acknowledged the compliance costs that gun owners would face, quoting the judge in the Gun Owners of America (GOA) case challenging the rule.
Finally, the judge assessed whether an injunction would be in the public interest. Given that the rule was deemed likely unlawful and public interest cannot be invoked to defend an unlawful rule, the judge concluded that the public interest favored the plaintiffs.
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