A lawsuit spearheaded by the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) has secured a preliminary injunction against the ATF arm brace ban. What exactly does that mean? And who does that apply to? This is all still a little unclear, but let’s take a look at this case and what might be on the horizon.
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This article is purely for educational use and is not legal advice. If the topics discussed in this article impact you personally, you should talk to an attorney licensed in your state. I am not licensed in any state within the 5th Circuit and I am not your attorney.
The lawsuit asserts some fairly simple claims. First, the ATF’s rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The APA gives courts the power to “hold unlawful and set aside” agency actions, like rules, that are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law” or that are “contrary to constitutional right[.]” Second, they argue that the ATF’s treatment of braced pistols as SBRs violates the Second Amendment. That analysis goes through the tests laid out in Bruen and Heller.
So What Happened?
A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit ruled in favor of FPC and granted the injunction pending appeal. But this is not the end of the story. This is a preliminary injunction, not a final injunction. That means the ATF cannot enforce the brace ban against the Plaintiffs until there is a decision on this appeal. It also applies only during the appeal process.
While this preliminary injunction against the brace ban is a great start, it is far from the end of the road. It only applies until the appeal is complete. Both sides are scheduled to submit briefs on an expedited schedule. The last of those briefs must be filed by June 20th, so it will be a little while before the appeal is resolved, but that is very fast in the world of courts.
What is the likely outcome of this lawsuit? That remains to be seen. The only thing less predictable than a judge is a jury. But the three judges who ruled on this motion felt that this case was likely to go in FPC’s favor. That is a good start.
It is not uncommon for a panel of judges to go one way on an issue, then be overruled by a larger panel later on. However, 13 of 16 judges in this Circuit thought the right decision in the bump stock case was tossing the ban. There is substantial overlap in ATF’s position in that case and in this case, so the odds do look good for a victory down the road. Personally, I would say I am cautiously optimistic about the trajectory of this case.
AKA @fromtheguncounter on Instagram. Gun nerd, reloader, attorney, and mediocre hunter. Daniel can still be found on occasion behind the counter at a local gun store. When he is not shooting, he enjoys hiking, camping, and rappelling around Utah.
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