Senate votes to keep Biden rule toughening requirements on stabilizing braces for firearms

New rules that require owners to register stabilizing braces for firearms will stay in place after the Senate rejected a Republican effort to overturn them

Mary Clare Jalonick,Lindsay Whitehurst
Thursday 22 June 2023 19:10 BST
Biden
Biden

New rules that require owners to register stabilizing braces for firearms will stay in place after the Senate rejected a Republican effort on Thursday to overturn them.

President Joe Biden had promised to veto the resolution overturning the rules if it had passed. In January, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives finalized the new regulations on pistols with stabilizing braces, also called pistol braces, that require owners to register them and pay a fee or remove the braces. The agency found the accessories can make pistols as dangerously powerful and easy to conceal as short-barreled rifles or sawed-off shotguns.

The Senate voted 50-49 to reject the resolution, with all Democrats voting against it and all Republicans voting for it. The Republican-led House had passed the resolution earlier this month.

The regulation, which went into effect June 1, was one of several steps 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 most recently in a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Republicans argue that the braces are needed for Americans who have disabilities to be able to shoot guns with one hand. Sen. John Kennedy, the Louisiana Republican who sponsored the resolution, said he believes the regulations are a “backdoor way to subject pistols to more smothering regulations” and create a national gun registry.

Democrats said that the country needs more gun regulations, not fewer, as mass shootings proliferate.

The GOP effort to overturn the rule was “outrageous and it is completely removed from the conversation that families and kids are having all across the country,” said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., ahead of the vote.

The new rule is also being challenged in several lawsuits by gun owners and state attorneys general who say it violates the Second Amendment by requiring millions of people to alter or register their weapons. In some cases, judges have recently agreed to temporarily block enforcement of the rule for the plaintiffs.

Biden mentioned the rule in a speech last week as he urged tougher gun restrictions around the country. This month marks the one-year anniversary of legislation passed by Congress that toughened background checks for the youngest gun buyers, sought to keep firearms from domestic violence offenders and aimed to help states put in place red flag laws that make it easier to take weapons away from people judged to be dangerous.

Biden noted that the pistol brace rule is one of several steps his administration has taken to try and curb gun violence.

The braces are essentially turning a gun into a short-barreled rifle, he said, “which has been a weapon of choice by a number of mass shooters.”

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