Congress must stand up for common-sense gun laws

May 17, 2023 3:20 pm

Photo illustration by Getty images.

I’m a gun owner.
I believe Americans have the right to bear arms.
I grew up hunting and sport shooting with my family. I’ve been around guns and gun owners my whole life. I know how to take care of my guns, ensure they are securely stored, and I know how to use my guns to hunt and shoot safely, just like many of my friends and family members. I’m also a member of GIFFORDS Gun Owners for Safety. I know the importance of protecting communities from gun violence through common sense measures that still respect and protect the Second Amendment.

I am deeply concerned about the efforts of some Members of Congress to repeal a regulation on stabilizing braces. Stabilizing braces, when attached to certain semi-automatic pistols, create dangerous short-barrelled rifles.

Using the brace as a shoulder stock, you can fire your pistol like a rifle, with more control over the gun between rounds. But because it’s still a pistol, you can conceal it much more easily than a rifle. This combination – giving you a concealable pistol that can be fired with the control and accuracy of a rifle – has been seized upon by people to perpetrate horrific crimes.

In the Dayton shooting, for example, the shooter used a stabilizing brace to fire 41 rounds in just 32 seconds, killing nine people and injuring 27 others. In the Boulder shooting, the killer used a similar device to fire more than 100 rounds in just 10 minutes, killing 10 people and injuring several others.

In Colorado Springs, a gunman using a semi-automatic pistol with a stabilizing brace killed 5 people, injuring 25 others. In Nashville, the shooter used a semi-automatic pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace to perpetrate a mass shooting at Covenant School, killing 6 people, three of whom were only 9 years old.

I know there are gun owners who own and use stabilizing braces for sport shooting who do not want the actions of some bad actors to limit the rights of all gun owners. In fact, the original versions of these braces designed in 2012 were to help individuals with disabilities continue being able to safely shoot their firearms. However, the design has morphed during the years, with modern day braces being more easily used as shoulder stocks, turning certain semi-automatic pistols into short-barrelled rifles, and evading the strong and effective regulation of the National Firearms Act.

We need to and can recognize the dangers posed by these weapons and regulate them accordingly to protect public safety while still respecting the rights of responsible gun owners.

That’s why the rule finalized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives still allows law-abiding gun owners to keep their stabilizing braces while appropriately regulating them under the NFA. ATF has even waived the fees for NFA registration. The stabilizing brace rule ATF has issued balances the dangers these braces pose to public safety while still respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners to use and keep these devices.

But now, Republican lawmakers paid by the gun lobby are trying to roll back this rule and jeopardize everyone’s safety. These actions are not representative of me as a gun owner or my friends and family who are gun owners.

Members of Congress need to stand up for sensible gun safety laws. We cannot continue to allow gun violence to occur in our communities without trying to prevent them.

Nick Gevock is a founding member of the Montana chapter of GIFFORDS Gun Owners for Safety. He is a lifelong hunter and angler. Gevock has over a decade working on wildlife conservation issues in Montana, and has taught hunter education to youth where they stress the safe use of firearms.

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