Iowa is among two dozen states whose Republican attorneys general have joined conservative and gun-rights groups in a challenge to new federal regulations on pistols with stabilizing braces, suing to block a gun-control action touted by President Joe Biden after the accessories were used in two mass shootings.
The lawsuit that Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird joined was filed Tuesday in federal court in North Dakota. Two other lawsuits also were filed in federal court in Texas against the move to treat the guns like short-barreled rifles, a weapon like a sawed-off shotgun that has been heavily regulated since the 1930s.
The cases argue that millions of people have guns with the braces and use them to make firing “more accurate, and therefore safer,” according to one of the Texas lawsuits, filed on behalf of three veterans by the conservative, Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
They said in the lawsuits that the new rule from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives forces owners into “unthinkable choices” of removing the brace, submitting to a national registry at a cost of $200 or opening themselves up to possible charges.
“The new rule unlawfully usurps Congressional authority by significantly expanding the definition of ‘rifle’ under federal law and, with it, imposes potential criminal liability on millions of Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights,” the lawsuit argues. A decade ago, the ATF found that the braces did not make guns similar to short-barreled rifles.
Bird, in a statement, said the Biden administration in imposing the new rule “is blatantly attacking the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. This new rule will make law-abiding citizens, who are unaware of the rule change, felons overnight, even though they had legally purchased their weapon.”
At least 3 million guns with stabilizing braces are in circulation in the U.S., according to the ATF. Other estimates place the number much higher, the suit claims. The plaintiffs are asking the court to block enforcement of the rule.
The regulation was one of several steps Biden 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.
The agency declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. The rule has drawn pushback from gun-rights groups since its proposal.
Stabilizing braces transform a pistol into a weapon that’s powerful and easy to conceal, Attorney General Merrick Garland said when he announced the rule earlier this month. Originally developed for disabled veterans, the accessories became a loophole exploited by gunmakers to make weapons more deadly, gun-control groups said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa joins 24 states in lawsuit to block Biden pistol brace rule
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