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Rep. Matt Gaetz Introduces ‘Abolish the ATF Act’ After New Rule Turned Millions of Gun Owners Into Criminals

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced legislation to abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) after a controversial ruling that would make millions of American gun owners into criminals.

On Friday, ATF issued a new regulation that will classify firearms with stabilizing devices as short-barreled rifles, which require a federal license to own under the National Firearms Act, Fox News reported.

As part of Joe Biden’s campaign to make as many guns illegal as possible, the ATF has restricted so-called pistol-stabilizing braces.

“Today, the Department of Justice announced it has submitted to the Federal Register the “Stabilizing Braces” Final Rule, which makes clear that when manufacturers, dealers, and individuals use stabilizing braces to convert pistols into rifles with a barrel of less than 16 inches, commonly referred to as a short-barreled rifles, they must comply with the laws that regulate those rifles, including the National Firearms Act (NFA),” the Department of Justice said in a statement.

“In April 2021, at an event with President Biden, the Attorney General directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to address the issue of stabilizing braces,” DOJ said.

“Keeping our communities safe from gun violence is among the Department’s highest priorities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Almost a century ago, Congress determined that short-barreled rifles must be subject to heightened requirements. Today’s rule makes clear that firearm manufacturers, dealers, and individuals cannot evade these important public safety protections simply by adding accessories to pistols that transform them into short-barreled rifles.”

The final rule states:

The rule outlines the factors ATF would consider when evaluating firearms equipped with a purported “stabilizing brace” (or other rearward attachment) to determine whether these weapons would be considered a “rifle” or “short-barreled rifle” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, or a “rifle” or “firearm” subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act. The rule’s amended definition of “rifle” clarifies that the term “designed, redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder” includes a weapon that is equipped with an accessory, component, or other rearward attachment (e.g., a “stabilizing brace”) that provides surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder, provided other factors, as listed in the definition, indicate the weapon is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder.

This rule does not affect “stabilizing braces” that are objectively designed and intended as a “stabilizing brace” for use by individuals with disabilities, and not for shouldering the weapon as a rifle. Such stabilizing braces are designed to conform to the arm and not as a buttstock. However, if the firearm with the “stabilizing brace” is a short-barreled rifle, it needs to be registered within 120-days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

This rule is effective the date it is published in the Federal Register.  Any weapons with “stabilizing braces” or similar attachments that constitute rifles under the NFA must be registered no later than 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register; or the short barrel removed and a 16-inch or longer rifle barrel attached to the firearm; or permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” such that it cannot be reattached; or the firearm is turned in to your local ATF office. Or the firearm is destroyed.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced legislation H.R.374, the “Abolish the ATF Act,” on Tuesday morning in response to the ruling.

“I have a lot of disabled veterans in my district who enjoy pistol shooting and rely on stabilizing braces to be able to engage in the activity,” Gaetz told Fox News. “The recent actions from the ATF essentially allow them to make case-by-case determinations on whether a pistol with a stabilizing brace is legal or an unlawful, sawed-off shotgun.”

“The continued existence of the ATF is increasingly unwarranted based on the actions they’re taking to convert otherwise law-abiding people into felons,” he said. “My bill would abolish the ATF. If that doesn’t work, we’re going to try defunding the ATF. If that doesn’t work, we’re going to target the individual bureaucrats at the top of the ATF who have exceeded their authority in rulemaking. And if that doesn’t work, we’re going to take a meat cleaver to the statutes that the ATF believes broadly authorize their actions.”

“I think they are under the flawed conception that a stabilizing brace increases the lethality or danger of a pistol,” he said. “It seems the ATF is on a snipe hunt for regulatory action that virtue signals to the anti-gun left, but that has no real practical safety impact on Americans.”

Fox News reported that it has no cosponsors right now, but Gaetz said that there is “broad support” among Republicans to go after ATF’s actions.

“I believe that you are likely to see ATF bureaucrats hauled before the Judiciary Committee to explain themselves in the coming weeks and months,” said Gaetz. “Because we’re hearing this very loudly from our constituents, and the reason I filed this bill is, frankly, I think that the ATF should have to justify their existence at all.”

Gaetz posted on his Twitter account Wednesday, calling to abolish the ATF.

“House Republicans have the ATF in our crosshairs. The continued existence of the ATF is increasingly unwarranted based on their repeated actions to convert law-abiding citizens into felons. My bill today would abolish the ATF once and for all,” he wrote.

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