Clinton-appointed judge exempts NRA members from fed's pistol brace rule

The National Rifle Association of America (“NRA”) on April 1 announced a major legal victory, as a Texas court enjoined the “pistol brace rule” from taking effect against its members. The legal win is the most expansive ruling of its kind to date — protecting millions of NRA members across the nation.

The NRA filed suit in the Northern District of Texas on July 3, 2023, against the ATF, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Steven M. Dettelbach, in his official capacity as director of ATF (“Defendants”), seeking to enjoin the ATF’s unconstitutional rule, which would have reversed its long-standing position that pistol braces do not transform pistols into rifles subject to onerous registration and taxation requirements under the National Firearms Act.

On March 29, U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay, a President Bill Clinton appointee, agreed with the NRA that it has “associational standing” to pursue this case because it is a traditional membership organization whose members rely on the NRA to protect their gun rights. In other words, the NRA is the voice of its members.

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Further, Judge Lindsay applied the Fifth Circuit’s earlier holding in Mock v. Garland that the ATF failed to go through an appropriate notice-and-comment period before issuing its “pistol brace rule,” making major revisions to the rule without acknowledging the hundreds of thousands of negative comments from the NRA and its members across the nation, thus rendering it likely unlawful.

“This is a major victory for the NRA, its members, and all who believe in Second Amendment freedom,” says NRA President Charles Cotton. “From day one, we vowed to fight back against President Biden and his rogue regulators — and to defeat this unlawful measure.”

The legal win protects millions of NRA members across the nation who seek to use a pistol brace to safely use a firearm, including many lawful gun owners with disabilities. The ATF’s unconstitutional rule would have reversed its long-standing position that pistol braces do not transform pistols into rifles subject to onerous registration and taxation requirements under the National Firearms Act.

The NRA successfully argued its members face irreparable harm from the new rule, which subjects law-abiding gun owners to penalties, fines, and potential prison sentences for the use of a legal plastic apparatus on some firearms.

“The NRA has emerged as a leading voice in opposition to this unlawful attempt to limit Second Amendment freedom,” says NRA counsel William A. Brewer III. “When it was determined NRA members could not benefit from other injunctions, the Association moved to the tip of the spear in the advocacy and prevailed in obtaining sweeping relief for its members.”

As noted in the court’s ruling, dated March 29, 2024, the NRA has obtained preliminary injunctive relief restraining Defendants from enforcing the “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces’” (the “Final Rule”) against law-abiding NRA members. First announced in January 2023, the Final Rule was set to go into effect June 1, 2023. The NRA gained recognition of the irreparable harm its members face from the draconian measure.

The NRA represents millions of members across the nation in preserving the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, including hundreds of thousands of members in Texas. The NRA has approximately 350,000 members in Texas — the No. 1 state for NRA members.

As explained in the NRA’s Complaint, many of its members were being irreparably harmed by the Final Rule, because under the rule they are forced to modify their firearms, destroy them, register them, or surrender them to the federal government under threat of criminal prosecution. Pistol stabilizing braces allow users to strap their gun to their forearm or place them on their shoulders for more stability. Millions of these devices are used by gun owners across the nation — particularly disabled veterans who need braces to safely use a pistol.

© 2024 National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action. This may be reproduced. This may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

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