FederalGunsJudicialTexas Attorney General Files Joint Lawsuit With Gun Owners of America Against ATF

The federal government is facing more court challenges to the recently adopted rule banning pistol braces on firearms.
February 10, 2023
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More lawsuits are pouring in against the Biden administration’s recent decision to redefine firearms with pistol braces as short-barrelled rifles (SBR) under the National Firearms Act (NFA), with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Gun Owners of America (GOA) filing a joint lawsuit seeking to block the rule.

The lawsuit, State of Texas v. ATF, was filed in the Federal Southern District Court of Texas on Thursday, joining two other lawsuits filed in federal district courts in Texas. Those include a challenge filed by attorneys with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty in the Northern District, and a challenge filed in the Eastern District by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF).

GOA called their lawsuit “the most comprehensive” among those filed, writing, “Our complaint makes clear that the agency’s rule violates the Second Amendment ‘text, history and tradition’ standard set forth by the Supreme Court in its recent Bruen case.” GOA also said their case argues the rule violates several other constitutional provisions, including being an “invalid” exercise of taxing authority.

Paxton also released a statement on the lawsuit, saying he is hopeful they prevail in blocking the rule.

 “This is yet another attempt by the Biden Administration to create a workaround to the U.S. Constitution and expand gun registration in America,” Paxton said in the release. “There is absolutely no legal basis for ATF’s haphazard decision to try to change the long-standing classification for stabilizing braces, force registration on Americans, and then throw them in jail for ten years if they don’t quickly comply. This rule is dangerous and unconstitutional, and I’m hopeful that this lawsuit will ensure that it is never allowed to take effect.”

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Federal officials have defended the rule, saying the decision will make communities safer.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement, “Keeping our communities safe from gun violence is among the Department’s highest priorities,” adding that was part of Congress’s past decision to regulate SBRs.

Paxton and GOA argue a different history regarding the NFA, explaining that the original draft of the NFA intended to include handguns among the types of firearms that would be subject to heightened regulations under the act. To ensure the NFA wasn’t circumvented by simply shortening rifles and shotguns, the SBR classification was added to the legislation.

However, handguns were ultimately removed from the legislation before passage while SBRs were left in place.

“This makes absolutely no sense from the perspective of ‘public safety’ or common sense,” the plaintiffs wrote, “as a person can lawfully possess, without NFA registration, both a handgun (short) and rifle (long) version of the same platform firearm (such as an AR-15 or AK-47), but cannot possess a “short-barreled rifle” (medium) version of the same platform.”

The lawsuit is seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief against the rule from being enforced.

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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.