Publishing Of Model Legislation And Stabilizing Arm Brace Rule Fulfill April Pledges From President Biden on Gun Safety
WASHINGTON – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements applauding the Department of Justice’s release of model extreme risk legislation for states to enact, as well as a proposed rule to ensure firearms equipped with stabilizing arm braces that currently circumvent the law on dangerous short-barrel rifles are subject to the National Firearms Act. In April, President Joe Biden, as a part of a suite of executive actions on gun safety, pledged that the Department of Justice would take these actions within 60 days. Federal versions of extreme risk legislation have also been introduced in Congress this session.
“The Biden administration is providing states with a clear roadmap for enacting common-sense legislation to allow family members and law enforcement to take action before someone does harm to themselves or others,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “When you combine this model legislation with the proposed rule to make sure that stabilizing arm braces are regulated under the law, President Biden continues to prove that he is the strongest gun safety president in history.”
“Red flag laws help save lives by allowing family members and law enforcement to act on warning signs before tragedy strikes” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “After a shooting, the shooter’s family often knew that something was off but felt like there was nothing they could do. This model legislation will help more states pass red flag laws and, with today’s proposed rule on stabilizing arm braces as well, represent a significant step forward for gun safety.”
In many instances of gun violence, there are clear warning signs that the shooter posed a serious threat before the shooting –– including 56% of mass shootings –– and extreme risk laws give key community members a way to intervene before these warning signs become tragedies. These laws allow immediate family members and law enforcement to petition a court for an order for the temporary removal of guns from dangerous situations. If a court finds that a person poses a serious risk of injuring themselves or others with a firearm, that person is temporarily prohibited from having guns.
Under current federal law, a person is barred from having guns only if they fall into one of several categories of prohibited persons. A person who displays warning signs that they’re considering suicide or engaging in a violent act, but who is not prohibited under federal law, would still be legally able to buy and possess guns. Red flag laws help to fill this gap, protecting public safety and allowing people in crisis the chance to obtain the help they need.
The mass shooter in the 2018 Parkland school shooting repeatedly displayed threatening behavior prior to the shooting. He was reported to law enforcement on more than one occasion. Following this tragedy, lawmakers across the country have sought to close this gap in their states. Since the beginning of 2018, 14 states and Washington DC have passed Extreme Risk laws, bringing the total number of states with these laws to 19.
The DOJ’s notice of proposed rulemaking would cut down on the circumvention of rules regulating the sale of short barrel rifles. As the Department of Justice’s press release notes, “the National Firearms Act imposes heightened regulations on short-barreled rifles because they are easily concealable, can cause great damage, and are more likely to be used to commit crimes.” Companies have circumvented the law through selling weapons with arm brace accessories that make it easy for people to possess guns that have been converted into short barrel rifles while avoiding the requirements of the law.
The proposed rule takes aim at the “arm brace loophole” – an industry driven effort to take an advancement for disabled shooters, the creation of a stabilizing brace to allow disabled shooters to better control their weapon, and exploit it to mass produce, market and sell short-barreled rifles to the non-disabled (without the added background checks or other requirements of the National Firearms Act for such dangerous weapons). In effect, what was designed as a niche accessory to assist disabled shooters, has become a loophole for gun companies to sell short-barreled rifles. An AR pistol with a stabilizing brace was used in the mass shooting in a Boulder grocery store this year where ten people were shot and killed. The proposed rule notes that manufacturers of stabilizing braces indicate they “have sold between 3 million and 7 million” braces between 2013 and 2020. The proposed rule clarifies that statutory restrictions on short-barreled rifles apply to weapons with certain stabilizing braces that are intended to be fired from the shoulder.