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Stone County sheriff releases letter on enforcement of ‘stabilizing braces’

The U.S. Justice Department recently announced a new rule to address stabilizing braces — accessories used to convert pistols into short-barreled rifles.

The department said in a Jan. 13 release that it has submitted the Stabilizing Braces Final Rule to the Federal Register, which, according to the release, “…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 short-barreled rifles, they must comply with the laws that regulate those rifles, including the National Firearms Act (NFA).”

In a letter dated Jan. 13, 2023, Stone County Sheriff Brandon Long told residents that after speaking to many citizens, he wanted to “publicly say that the Stone County Sheriff’s Office WILL NOT assist the federal government in enforcing this act.”

The sheriff wrote in the letter that he believed the rule “…is a clear violation and infringement of our second amendment rights. The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty, and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people. Upon being sworn in as YOUR Sheriff, I swore to protect and uphold the rights provided to all of us in the Constitution.”

Long then referred to 2021’s Arkansas Code 21-1-904, which restricts federal regulation on firearms in the state. Click here to read more about the state policy.

The sheriff told White River Now’s Gary Bridgman the new law would not be a priority of his office.

In April 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to address the issue of stabilizing braces. The release from the Justice Department noted the NFA has imposed requirements on short-barreled rifles since the 1930s.

The NFA, according to the department’s release, “…has imposed requirements on short-barreled rifles because they are more easily concealable than long-barreled rifles but have more destructive power than traditional handguns.”

In an article from Little Rock media outlet KTHV, Robert Steinbuch, a University of Arkansas at Little Rock law professor, noted the job of state officers enforcing a federal rule is questionable.

From KTHV:

“Well, in fact, it’s not their job to enforce a federal rule,” Steinbuch said. “[State officers] are involved in state law, and depending where not even all of the state law.”

Steinbuch said that enforcing the new policy could actually go against Arkansas law Code 21-1-904, which restricts federal regulation on firearms in the state.

“Whether the part that applies to state employees is illegal? I think it is,” Steinbuch said. “But there’s an argument actually, that you can’t even say that.”

But federal offices can still enforce the brace restriction— the ATF telling us in part that they are “…The lead federal law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing the national firearms act and will continue to work with local, state and federal partners to combat violent crime in our communities.”

Click here to read KTHV’s story.

The Justice Department said the rule goes into effect on the date of publication in the Federal Register. To read the official release from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the “Stabilizing Braces Final Rule,” click here.

Text of letter from Stone County Sheriff Brandon Long:

Dear Citizens,

On behalf of the Stone County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to publicly address the recent ATF rule 2021R-08F issued last week regarding “pistol braces.” Since this “rule” came into effect on January 13th, 2023, many otherwise legal gun owners are now in fear of their Second Amendment rights being violated. After speaking with many of you, I want to publicly say that the Stone County Sheriff’s Office WILL NOT assist the federal government in enforcing this act. I, among many others, believe that this is a clear violation and infringement of our second amendment rights. The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty, and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people. Upon being sworn in as YOUR Sheriff, I swore to protect and uphold the rights provided to all of us in the Constitution. This oath and responsibility is taken with the upmost seriousness. As outlined by other Sheriffs recently, Arkansas Code 21-1-904 was put in place as protection for infringements such as this.

Arkansas Code 21-1-904, “(a) All acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations of the United States Government that were enacted on or after January 1, 2021, that infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Arkansas Constitution, Article 2, § 5, are invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state. (b) Such a federal ban that is null and void in this state under subsection (a) of this section includes without limitation: (4) Any act forbidding the possession, ownership, use, or transfer of any type of firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition by law-abiding citizens; (1) The following persons shall not enforce or assist federal agencies or officers in the enforcement of any federal statute, executive order, or federal agency directive that conflicts with Arkansas Constitution, Article 2, § 5, or any Arkansas law: (A) A public officer or employee of this state.”

In conclusion, the Stone County Sheriff’s Office will not participate in a violation of our Constitutional Rights. As the chief law enforcement official of this county, my office nor myself will be arresting, or housing law abiding citizens for non-compliance of this act. Instead, the Stone County Sheriff’s Office will be dedicated to solving REAL crimes and arresting REAL criminals, working to ensure that we all have a safe place to live.

Respectfully,
-Sheriff Brandon Long
(870) 269-3825


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