ATFs pistol brace rule used to challenge CT ban on "assault weapons"

(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

The clock is ticking on the ATF’s mandate for owners of brace-equipped pistols to register their firearms as short-barreled rifles under the National Firearms Act, but while that edict is facing a legal challenge of its own it’s also spurred the Second Amendment Foundation and the Connecticut Citizens Defense League to file for an emergency restraining order and an injunction blocking enforcement of the state’s ban on so-called assault weapons.


As the CCDL explains:

ATF’s new rule impacts tens of thousands of Connecticut residents who are otherwise law-abiding, but who have now found themselves facing possible felony prosecution through no fault of their own. While residents of other states are able to register these firearms with the ATF, or change the short barrels for longer ones to make them  legal, the ATF has stated that it will not permit any such registrations from Connecticut residents due to  Connecticut’s “assault weapon” ban. Nor will changing out the barrels avoid redesignation as banned “assault  weapons” under Connecticut law. As such, many thousands of Connecticut residents who were previously authorized by the Connecticut State Police’s Special Licensing and Firearms Unit to purchase these firearms, find  themselves without the legal options had by residents of most other states.

The “assault weapons” ban was first challenged by CCDL, SAF, and several individual gun owners last fall, but the ATF’s new rule has given the case new urgency given the effect that it could have on thousands of law-abiding gun owners across the state.

“These three plaintiffs, along with tens of thousands of other good, law-abiding Connecticut residents, suddenly  find themselves facing possible felony charges, all of which could have disastrous implications for them, their  families, their careers, and their standing in the community. Until Tuesday, the firearms at issue were entirely lawful,  owned by people who may now face detrimental personal damage due to state laws that are not only unclear and  virtually impossible to comply with, but also in blatant and direct violation of the Connecticut and U.S.  Constitutions,” says Holly Sullivan, President of the CCDL. “As such, we are imploring the federal court to step in to  protect these otherwise lawful gunowners from being arrested under the new application of Connecticut’s  egregious ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’ which are simply commonly owned modern sporting arms.”


The ATF rule isn’t the only threat that’s looming for those who lawfully purchased modern sporting rifles and other arms designated as “assault weapons” by the state. As we’ve been reporting, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont had been calling on lawmakers to revise the existing ban and remove the grandfather clause that allowed existing owners to maintain possession of their guns when the state’s ban first took effect back in 1993. That grandfather clause was kept in place when the state modified the ban, first in 2001 and again in 2013, but Lamont was adamant that the clause should be removed… at least until a couple of weeks ago, when he tweaked his proposal to instead add a number of new firearms to the current list of prohibited arms and to demand owners of “assault weapons” manufactured before 1994 register them with the state.

Lamont also wants to make possession of a “large capacity” magazine a felony offense under Connecticut law, and given the Democratic majorities in Hartford gun owners are facing an uphill fight defending their Second Amendment rights in the state legislature. The federal court system will hopefully provide more protection for these gun owners than their own lawmakers, who are intent on nullifying the right to keep and bear arms as much as possible. Even with the request for an emergency hearing, it could be a few weeks before a federal judge hears the pleas of Connecticut gun owners, but we’ll keep our eyes on this case and let you know of any updates when they happen.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member