WASHINGTON — Less than three months after the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, where a shooter used an assault weapon equipped with an arm brace, killing three nine-year-olds and three school staff members, the U.S. House is voting today on legislation that would make it easier for dangerous individuals to get their hands on these dangerous weapons. President Biden has already committed to vetoing this bill, should it make it to his desk.
“This vote, which comes less than three months after the Nashville shooter used an AR-15 pistol with an arm brace to murder six people, is the latest in a attack from gun extremists against ATF, which is working to protect Americans from gun violence,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Make no mistake: this proposal would make it easier for the next mass shooter to get his hands on an exceptionally dangerous assault weapon. Thankfully, should this legislation pass, the bipartisan majority of Americans who support gun safety laws can count on President Biden to veto it.”
“The gun lobby is pushing their allies in Congress to repeal the lifesaving arm brace rule and continue their dangerous guns everywhere agenda,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “We’ve seen assault weapons with arm braces make the mass shootings in Nashville, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and Dayton deadlier. Lawmakers should be working to pass gun safety laws, not standing shoulder to shoulder with the gun industry to repeal this life-saving rule.”
Arm braces were originally designed in 2012 as a niche accessory to help disabled shooters, but these accessories have since evolved to easily convert large-format AR-15 and AK-47 pistols into short-barreled rifles. Short-barreled rifles are exceptionally dangerous and have been subject to stricter scrutiny for nearly a century because, as the Department of Justice has explained, “they are easily concealable, can cause great damage, and are more likely to be used to commit crimes.”
While short-barreled rifles with traditional stocks are not used in mass shootings, mass shooters, including those in Nashville, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and Dayton, have turned to arm brace equipped firearms to evade the heightened regulations that Congress put in place on short-barreled rifles with the National Firearms Act in 1934. Thankfully, in January, the Biden-Harris Administration finalized a rule that addresses this gun industry work around by treating firearms equipped with arm braces like the short-barreled rifles they are.
House and Senate Republicans are now actively seeking to repeal these requirements, pretending guns with arm braces aren’t short-barreled rifles, even though these firearms look, shoot, and kill all the same.
The move to undo the arm brace rule comes as part of a concerted attack by gun extremists on ATF, whose mission is to protect the public from violent crime, including gun crime. In March, subcommittees of the House Oversight & Accountability Committee and House Judiciary Committee held a hearing attacking ATF. At the hearing, Everytown’s Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs, Rob Wilcox, pushed back on the lies from gun-lobby-backed lawmakers and testified to the crucial role that ATF, in partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies, plays in keeping communities safe and combating gun violence. Republican gun extremists in Congress have already introduced legislation this session to abolish ATF in its entirety and are on the record saying that if they cannot eliminate ATF, they are “going to try defunding” it.