HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – A coalition of more than 20 state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit against US Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with the bureau’s director regarding a rule on stabilizing braces.

According to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is part of the coalition, says the goal of the lawsuit is to stop Garland and the Bureau from enacting a recently issued final rule to govern the stabilizing braces, also known as pistol braces.

The rule in question is called the Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces. The ATF says the final rule was published in the Federal Register Jan. 31, 2023, and amends the bureau’s regulations to “clarify when a rifle is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.”

The ATF says the new rule will outline the factors the bureau uses to evaluate whether a firearm equipped with a “purported stabilizing brace” or similar attachment should be considered a rifle or a short-barreled rifle under the Gun Control Act of 1968, and whether it should be a rifle or a firearm under the National Firearms Act. According to the ATF, the rule has amended the definition of “rifle” to include when the weapon is equipped with an accessory, component or other attachment that adds surface area to allow the weapon to be fired from the shoulder.

According to Morrisey, this means that when manufacturers dealers and individuals pair a stabilizing brace with most pistols, they would be required to comply with laws that regulate those rifles by applying for a permit with the ATF and paying a tax he says could cause restrictions on the “future transfer of the brace.”

“Let’s call this what it is: an effort to undermine Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” Morrisey said. “This is an egregious final rule turning millions of common firearms accessories into ‘short barreled rifles.’ This is a completely nonsensical regulation. This is part of the continued attack by the Biden administration against lawful gun owners.”

Stabilizing braces were first designed to allow those with disabilities use pistols, according to Morrisey. He adds that older people, those with limited mobility and people of smaller stature have also started using the braces, which have not been subject to regulation before. Morrisey says he is concerned the rule and registration requirements will make it harder for those with disabilities to use their gun.

“We should not be making it harder for senior citizens and people with disabilities—and many disabled veterans—to defend themselves,” Morrisey said. “I will continue stand up for the Second Amendment rights of all West Virginians. This is also another case of a federal agency not staying in its lane and doing the job the constitution clearly delegates to Congress—writing laws. The Separation of Powers clearly bars federal agencies from making new laws without Congressional directive.”

However, the ATF says the 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.” The bureau says these braces are designed to conform to the arm and are not designed as a buttstock.

Morrisey says additional plaintiffs along with the attorneys general include advocacy group Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition Inc., brace manufacture SB Tactical, firearms importer and manufacturer B&T USA, and Richard Cicero, a retired police firearms instructor and a wounded warrior who uses stabilizing braces.