U.S. Reps. Richard Hudson (NC-08), Steve Scalise (LA-01), and Mike Bost (IL-12) joined a group of veterans on July 27 for a press conference on the proposed rule change by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives concerning braces. The lawmakers slammed the regulation on the grounds that it not only jeopardizes the Second Amendment in general but also the ability of some disabled combat veterans to exercise those rights in particular.
"The ATF proposal could hurt thousands of law-abiding, gun-owning veterans simply because they use a stabilizing brace," said Bost, the senior Republican on the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "Disabled veterans have given their country enough. The last thing they should be subject to is absurd fines and government overreach."
Among those who spoke at the event was retired U.S. Army veteran Rick Cicero. Injured in 2010 by an IED in Afghanistan that caused significant damage to his right leg and right arm, Cicero subsequently helped design the first stabilizing braces with fellow paratrooper Alex Bosco and wrote the initial training guidelines with Sig Sauer Academy to use them.
"Stabilizing braces gave me the ability to get back out and shoot things that I never expected I would be able to again and my life changed drastically," said Cicero. "Since then, I have been traveling across the country teaching veterans how to shoot again. That brace is the foundation of everything I do because I can take someone who has limited strength in their hands or is missing digits and give them confidence and the skills and capability to grasp a firearm again and get them back to the things that were such a part of their life."
Other speakers included Marine veteran Anson Roberts.
"This regulation is wrong," said Roberts, injured in Iraq in 2007. "It's taking away the self-defense right for me, for my family, or some other person in America who is disabled. I don't have the same strength in my hands or my arms or my legs anymore. Using this device helps me protect my family."
The group urged those concerned with the rulemaking, which uses a confusing point system to decide if a firearm fitted with a brace is an illegal short-barreled rifle – possession of which could be worth a decade in federal prison – to make a public comment voicing those concerns.