Breaking News
More () »

Arkansas sheriffs push back on new ATF gun policy

Those who use a brace stabilizer will have to register their weapons with the government. Gun control groups support it, but not everyone agrees with the new policy.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Multiple Arkansas sheriff's offices are pushing back against a new gun policy from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, (ATF).

This new federal rule states that those who use a "brace stabilizer" attachment will have to register their weapons with the government.

Gun control groups support the new policy, but not everyone agrees.

Stone County Sheriff Brandon Long and the Cleburne County Sheriff's Office shared that their offices would not assist the federal government in enforcing this policy.

"A lot of you know, otherwise legal gun owners now felt that they can be arrested and potentially charged and convicted of a felony," Long said. "My agency is not going to be housing citizens or making any arrests in reference to non-compliance with this act."

The legality of enforcing the new federal policy is drawn into question. According to law professor Robert Steinbuch with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, it's not the officers' job.

"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."

Lindsay Nichols with Gifford's Law Center to prevent gun violence said this attachment has been used in mass shootings.

"Registration means that the people who own these guns go through a very thorough background check," Nichols said. "They know they will be held accountable if these guns are used in a crime."

Unofficial federal estimates show between three and 40 million brace stabilizers will have to be registered within 120 days of this rule going into effect.

The Stone County Sheriff's Department is considering the next steps alongside other sheriff departments.

The National Rifle Association said it's already preparing legal action to challenge this rule in court.

According to Steinbuch, "all law" is up for interpretation by the court.

The new ATF policy is expected to go into effect later this week once it is published in the federal register.

More information on what this policy means can be found here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out