OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Some sheriff’s offices across Oklahoma are standing against the enforcement of a new gun rule from the U.S. Department of Justice that expands the definition of short-barreled rifles to include pistols with stabilizing braces. These sheriffs assert that the new rule contradicts the Oklahoma Second Amendment Sanctuary Act.
On January 13, the DOJ submitted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ “Stabilizing Braces” Final Rule, “which makes clear that when manufacturers, dealers, and individuals use stabilizing braces to convert pistols into rifles with a barrel of less than 16 inches, commonly referred to as a short-barreled rifles, they must comply with the laws that regulate those rifles, including the National Firearms Act (NFA).”
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the 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.”
elbach explained further.
“Short-barreled rifles have the greater capability of long guns, yet are easier to conceal, like a pistol,” he said. “But certain so-called stabilizing braces are designed to just attach to pistols, essentially converting them into short-barreled rifles to be fired from the shoulder. Therefore, they must be treated in the same way under the statute.”
On Tuesday, Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson lll said per the Oklahoma Second Amendment Sanctuary Act, his office cannot enforce the rule established by the DOJ since it’s not a federal law.
“This state statute creates a contradiction,” he said. “Therefore, I have instructed my deputies, if you encounter someone in possession of a pistol with a stabilizing brace during a low-level incidental contact like a traffic stop, traffic collision, or a motorist assist, deputies are not to take any action in regard to enforcement of ATF Final rule 2021R-08f… In other words, if a deputy encounters someone with a pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace, they will take no action against that person unless that person is using the weapon in the commission of a crime.”
Sheriff Damon Devereaux of Logan County and Sheriff Jim Mullett of Garvin County announced similar positions on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
“The Logan County Sheriff’s Office stands with our neighbors to the South, Sheriff Tommy Johnson lll, and The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and any other Sheriff’s Office or other Law Enforcement in defense of rights,” Devereaux said, citing Oklahoma State Statutes 1289.24d and 1289.24e.
Joshua Harris-Till, a leader with the Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action, disagrees with the stance.
“The sheriff’s office should uphold this new rule because it is just a clarification on the short-barrel firearm laws already on the books,” he said. “It shouldn’t be something that we’re saying is a threat to the Second Amendment. All it is is a clarification.”
He explained how enforcing the rule of registering pistols with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles will make things better.
“It doesn’t make them illegal, inherently,” he explained. “What it makes is an opportunity for you to register those guns to show that you are a responsible gun owner and that your guns won’t be used in any of the crimes that are happening. And that’s going to help us kind of determine which guns are supposed to be on the streets and which guns aren’t. And so, if you really support responsible gun ownership, you should be in favor of this law and in favor of the registration so that we can figure out how to end gun violence.”
The DOJ said beyond background checks and serial numbers, the heightened requirements for short-barreled rifles include taxation and registration requirements that include background checks for all transfers including private transfers.
The new rule allows for a 120-day period for manufacturers, dealers, and individuals to register tax-free any existing NFA short-barreled rifles covered by the rule. Other options including removing the stabilizing brace to return the firearm to a pistol or surrendering covered short-barreled rifles to ATF. Nothing in this rule bans stabilizing braces or the use of stabilizing braces on pistols.