Nadler Opening Statement for Markup of H.J. Res. 44, Disapproval of Stabilizing Brace Rule
Washington, April 19, 2023
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during a markup of H.J. Res. 44, Disapproval of Stabilizing Brace Rule:
"Mr. Chairman, gun violence continues to take the lives of more than 100 Americans every day. It changes how safe we feel in our schools and our houses of worship. It reduces vibrant cities to somber headlines. It takes our loved ones—old and young—and leaves us with another anniversary of lives cut short and a community forever changed.
"Three weeks ago, six more people—including three children—were killed in a mass shooting at a school in Nashville. It was the 19th school shooting just this year. Three weeks ago, three more families woke up without the child that they took to school the day before. Six more families faced the unthinkable—that their son, daughter, parent, husband, wife, or sibling are one of the 100 Americans we lose every day to gun violence.
"And three weeks ago, the Majority had planned to mark up this very legislation: a bill to make stabilizing braces widely available without a background check—even though they had already been used in mass shootings in Dayton, Boulder, and Colorado Springs. When it was revealed that the shooter in Nashville also used a gun with a stabilizing brace, the Republicans cancelled the markup—until now.
"Today, the Majority has decided that enough time has passed since six lives were lost in yet another mass shooting with a stabilizing brace. Perhaps they think that we have forgotten the lives lost in that terrible tragedy. But we will never forget them, or the countless others who lose their lives to gun violence every day.
"Today, rather than stand up against gun violence, the Majority has called this markup so that they can, yet again, stand with the gun industry.
"Rather than support the law enforcement officers who are on the frontlines of protecting our communities, the Majority is attempting to weaken law enforcement by rolling back a rule created by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives meant to protect us from dangerous weapons. ATF is the law enforcement agency tasked with keeping guns out of the wrong hands and keeping our gun laws in line with congressional intent through rulemaking.
"In 1934, Congress passed the National Firearms Act, creating additional requirements to own certain especially dangerous firearms, like short-barreled rifles, which were widely used by violent criminals. Congress included short-barreled rifles because they combine the firepower of a rifle with the concealability of a smaller gun.
"But in recent years, the gun industry discovered a way to circumvent the restrictions of the National Firearms Act by selling stabilizing braces—an accessory that allows a pistol to be fired from the shoulder, turning it into a deadly yet concealable short-barreled rifle.
In 2020—under the Trump Administration—the ATF concluded that stabilizing braces were being widely used to create short-barreled rifles and it published guidance regarding their use. But House Republicans cried foul. Just four days after the guidance was published, 90 House Republicans sent a letter to ATF and DOJ expressing their opposition, and just a few days later, the guidance was withdrawn.
"A few months later, under the Biden Administration, the ATF revived its efforts to regulate stabilizing braces and it published the final rule in January, to ensure that our laws stay in line with the intent of Congress dating all the way back to 1934, when Congress decided that deadly, concealable short-barreled rifles should be subject to heightened regulation. But Republicans will stop at nothing to block the ATF from taking this simple lifesaving measure.
"Mass shooters used guns with stabilizing braces to kill 9 people outside a bar in Dayton in 2019; to kill 10 people—including a responding police officer—at a grocery store in Boulder in 2021; to kill 5 people in an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs in 2022; and to kill 6 people at a school in Nashville just 3 weeks ago.
"How many more people have to die before Republicans acknowledge that these weapons are a favorite of mass shooters for their ability to make a gun both deadly and concealable? How many more people have to die before Republicans will value the lives of our children over the profits of the gun industry?
"Last Congress, Democrats put forth a range of solutions to prevent gun violence, to support law enforcement, and to solve violent crimes, but our colleagues across the aisle continue to push for unfettered access to every firearm and accessory imaginable.
"As Republicans continue to seek freedom from gun regulation, we will continue to seek communities free from gun violence. I urge my colleagues to oppose this dangerous legislation."