Gaetz introduces 'Abolish the ATF Act' after ruling against stabilizing braces

Gaetz says ATF on 'snipe hunt' to 'convert otherwise law-abiding people into felons'

FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., introduced a bill to eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) following a controversial ruling that tightens regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces.

The ATF issued its final rule Friday that will treat guns with stabilizing accessories like short-barreled rifles, which require a federal license to own under the National Firearms Act. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the ruling enhances public safety, but Gaetz said it unfairly punishes disabled gun owners and veterans who rely on stabilizing braces to be able to fire with one hand.

Gaetz introduced H.R.374, the "Abolish the ATF Act," on Tuesday morning in response to the ruling, telling Fox News Digital it was the "final straw."

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., walks to a closed-door GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10, 2023.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., walks to a closed-door GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

GOP LAWMAKERS, NRA SLAM ATF RULE TO REGULATE PISTOL BRACES: ‘UNCONSTITUTIONAL OVERREACH’ 

"I have a lot of disabled veterans in my district who enjoy pistol shooting and rely on stabilizing braces to be able to engage in the activity," he said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. "The recent actions from the ATF essentially allow them to make case-by-case determinations on whether a pistol with a stabilizing brace is legal or an unlawful, sawed-off shotgun."

"The continued existence of the ATF is increasingly unwarranted based on the actions they're taking to convert otherwise law-abiding people into felons," he said. "My bill would abolish the ATF. If that doesn't work, we're going to try defunding the ATF. If that doesn't work, we're going to target the individual bureaucrats at the top of the ATF who have exceeded their authority in rulemaking. And if that doesn't work, we're going to take a meat cleaver to the statutes that the ATF believes broadly authorize their actions."

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., talks with reporters as they walk down the steps of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., talks with reporters as they walk down the steps of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

According to the ATF, the new rule does not affect stabilizing braces that are "objectively designed and intended as a ‘stabilizing brace’ for use by individuals with disabilities, and not for shouldering the weapon as a rifle. Such stabilizing braces are designed to conform to the arm and not as a buttstock. However, if the firearm with the ‘stabilizing brace’ is a short-barreled rifle, it needs to be registered within 120-days from the date of publication in the Federal Register."

However, Gaetz said, "the people at the ATF making these rules fundamentally don't understand firearms."

"I think they are under the flawed conception that a stabilizing brace increases the lethality or danger of a pistol," he said. "It seems the ATF is on a snipe hunt for regulatory action that virtue signals to the anti-gun left, but that has no real practical safety impact on Americans."

President Biden, right, listens as Steve Dettelbach, nominee for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, speaks on measures to combat gun crime from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2022.

President Biden, right, listens as Steve Dettelbach, nominee for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, speaks on measures to combat gun crime from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2022. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Gaetz’s bill, which has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, does not have any cosponsors yet, but he said there’s "broad support" among Republicans "to go after the actions of ATF."

"I believe that you are likely to see ATF bureaucrats hauled before the Judiciary Committee to explain themselves in the coming weeks and months," said Gaetz, who also sits on the committee. "Because we’re hearing this very loudly from our constituents, and the reason I filed this bill is, frankly, I think that the ATF should have to justify their existence at all."

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