The Justice Department is finalizing tighter regulations on guns with accessories known as stabilizing braces, a gun-control action touted by President Joe Biden after the devices were used in mass shootings in recent years.
The rule, formalized on Jan. 13, was one of several steps Biden announced in April 2021 after a man using one 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.
The new rule will treat guns with the accessories like short-barreled rifles, a weapon that is like a sawed-off shotgun and has been heavily regulated since the 1930s.
Pistol-stabilizing braces transform a handgun into a weapon with a similarly dangerous combination of being powerful and easy to conceal, said Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“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,” Garland said.
“Simply put, this rule enhances public safety,” said Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“That’s a lot of firearms in common use,” said Mark Erikson, with Grassroots North Carolina.
He told Channel 9 the move is not right and could cause constitutional issues.
The rule has gotten pushback from Republicans and gun-rights groups like the National Rifle Association, which pointed out they were originally designed for disabled veterans. The Second Amendment Foundation said it would challenge the rule in a lawsuit already filed over arm braces.
Gunowners who have already bought the gun accessory have called Hyatt Coin and Gun off Wilkson Boulevard in west Charlotte wondering what they should do.
Owner Larry Hyatt has pistol-stabilizing braces on his shelves, but he said he’s no longer selling them for the time being.
“You cannot sell something to your customer that they might not be able to own a week later,” Hyatt said.
The group Everytown for Gun Safety cheered the ATF’s move, saying gunmakers had exploited loopholes in the law to make firearms more deadly.
The rule is expected to go into effect next week. Once it takes effect, anyone who has a gun with an arm-stabilizing brace will need to register the weapon with the federal government.
Officials estimated about 3 million stabilizing braces are currently in circulation in the U.S.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.