NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA – Two northeast Oklahoma Sheriff’s Departments have joined with several other Oklahoma sheriffs agreeing not to enforce a new federal regulation.

On Jan. 13, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland signed a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives final rule that prohibits stabilizing braces that can easily convert pistols into short-barrel rifles.

The rule outlines the factors ATF would consider when evaluating firearms equipped with a purported “stabilizing brace” to determine whether these weapons would be considered a “rifle” or “short-barreled rifle,” according to the federal agency’s website.  

Delaware County Sheriff James Beck explained the policy as “if you have a pistol and add a stabilizing brace – moving it from a hand-fired weapon to a shoulder-fired weapon.”  

Ottawa County Sheriff David Dean and Beck recently took to a social media site stating the ATF’s policy prohibiting “stabilizing braces” will not be enforced by either agency.

Dean posted on his department’s social media site:

“I have instructed our deputies that if they locate a firearm with a stabilizing brace during an investigative contact with a citizen, we are not going to take action. If a crime has occurred with a weapon that has a stabilizing brace, then we will take the appropriate actions and file the appropriate charges based on the Oklahoma statute book.”

Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department Facebook Page, Jan. 25, 2023

Both sheriffs pointed out that ATF enacted a policy not a law and deputies and other law enforcement cannot enforce a rule that is in opposition to federal law.

Recently the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the ATF on the subject of bump stocks and reaffirmed Congress is the only agency that can make a law, Beck said.  

“There is a reason for three branches of government and the checks and balances by each branch of the other branches,” Beck said.

Using a section of one branch to further a person’s own political or personal agenda is not acceptable and is clearly not what was intended by the Constitution, he said.