Armed Scholar

Nationwide Block of ATF Pistol Brace & Short Barreled Rifle Rule Faces Critical Hearing in Fifth Circuit

Video Highlights

  • The ATF's pistol brace rule is facing arguments before the Fifth Circuit next week.
  • Temporary injunctions are currently in place, protecting various organizations and their members.
  • The upcoming hearing will review whether the lower court judge abused his discretion in denying the original injunction.
  • The composition of the three-judge panel leans towards a favorable outcome for gun owners.
  • Judges Smith and Willett have previously ruled against the ATF's overreach in the Cargill bump stock case.
  • The interpretation battle revolves around Chevron deference versus the rule of lenity.
  • The ultimate resolution of the pistol brace issue may go before the Fifth Circuit en banc.

Video Summary

In a significant development, the ATF's pistol brace and short-barreled rifle rule is facing critical arguments before the Fifth Circuit. This update sheds light on the ongoing legal battle, the current state of temporary injunctions, and the potential implications for gun owners across the nation.

Background: The case at the center of this update is known as Mock v. Garland. The plaintiffs include Maximum Defense, individual plaintiffs, and the FPC (Farmers Polity Coalition). Temporary injunctions have been granted to protect organizations like FPC, GOA (Gun Owners of America), and SAF (Second Amendment Foundation). Additionally, the NRA (National Rifle Association) is seeking to join the SAF lawsuit to gain protection for its organization and members.

Temporary Injunctions and the Fifth Circuit Hearing: It is important to note that the current injunctions against the pistol brace rule are temporary and limited in duration. The upcoming hearing, scheduled for June 29th, will be held before a three-judge panel in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The central question of this hearing is whether the lower court judge in the Mock lawsuit abused his discretion in denying the original injunction requested by the plaintiffs.

Judge Reed O'Connor's Ruling: Initially, Judge O'Connor denied a preliminary injunction, stating that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their claims. However, Judge O'Connor's ruling raised concerns due to the lack of historical evidence presented in the case. Notably, he suggested that the ATF's rule might be within its statutory authority, even though he acknowledged the lack of clarity.

Composition of the Three-Judge Panel: The judges assigned to the three-judge panel hearing the case are Judge Jerry Smith, Judge Stevenson Higginson, and Judge Don Willett. Judge Smith, appointed by Reagan, and Judge Willett, appointed by Trump, have previously ruled against the ATF's overreach in the Cargill bump stock case. Judge Higginson, appointed by Obama, wrote a dissenting opinion in the same case, opposing the rule of lenity used to strike down the ATF's interpretation.

Interpretation Battle: Chevron Deference vs. Rule of Lenity: A crucial aspect of the pistol brace challenge and other lawsuits against the ATF revolves around the interpretation of the National Firearms Act (NFA) and the Gun Control Act (GCA). The interpretation battle centers on whether Chevron deference, which grants the agency discretion in interpreting ambiguous terms, should be applied or whether the rule of lenity, favoring the people rather than the enforcement agency, should prevail.

Implications and Outlook: The outcome of the hearing before the three-judge panel remains uncertain. While Judge Smith and Judge Willett have shown a pro-Second Amendment stance in the Cargill case, the review is limited to whether the lower court judge abused his discretion. Reversals on this basis are challenging to achieve. However, even if the panel rules unfavorably, the issue may still proceed to a full en banc hearing in the Fifth Circuit.

Conclusion: The ongoing legal battle against the ATF's pistol brace and short-barreled rifle rule is approaching a critical phase with the upcoming Fifth Circuit hearing. Temporary injunctions have provided some relief for gun owners, but their duration is limited until the panel's ruling. The composition of the three-judge panel leans towards a favorable outcome, given the pro-Second Amendment track records of Judges Smith and Willett. Nonetheless, the ultimate resolution may require a full en banc hearing. Gun owners and supporters continue to closely follow the case, awaiting a decision that could significantly impact their rights and freedoms.