Biden’s attempt to regulate pistol braces dealt blow after appeals court casts doubt on constitutionality

pistols on display gun store

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The Biden administration’s effort to regulate pistol braces was dealt a blow Tuesday after a ruling by a federal appeals court cast doubt on its constitutionality. 

The Biden admin rule required gun owners to register pistol braces, which are accessories that can be attached to the rear of a gun to make it easier to aim and fire with one hand. 

Semi-automatic handguns

Semi-automatic handguns are displayed at shop in New Castle, Pa., March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

Second Amendment proponents argued that the braces make handguns safer and more accurate. But gun control advocates argued the braces could be used to lengthen a concealable handgun, making it more dangerous. 

The regulation, which went into effect June 1, was one of several steps President Joe Biden first announced in 2021 after a man using a stabilizing brace killed 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. A stabilizing brace was also used in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine people dead in 2019, and in a school shooting that killed six in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Two Texas gun owners, a gun rights group and a gun dealer filed a lawsuit challenging the law. The Texas-based federal judge presiding in the case refused to block the rule, which required registration of the devices and payment of a fee. But in May, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary block of the rule as it applied to the plaintiffs, their customers, and members.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said Tuesday the Biden administration’s rule requiring registration for the braces was unlikely to survive a legal challenge. 

Gun

A customer holds a Glock 17 pistol for sale at Redstone Firearms, in Burbank, Calif., Sept. 16, 2022.   (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File)

“There is a need for consistent application of the law, and this court may not have all the required facts,” Judge Jerry Smith wrote, noting that multiple other courts have issued orders against the federal registration rule since May and that it is uncertain how many people are now covered by such rulings.

The panel voted 2-1 to extend the block on enforcement for 60 days and send the case back to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas. 

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Judge O’Connor will now consider whether to block enforcement nationwide. For now, gun dealers and owners are permitted to keep owning, buying, and selling these devices, without registering them. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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