In the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas…

My name is Darren Britto, and on Jan. 31, I became a litigant in a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas because of the ATF’s arbitrary rule change regarding stabilizing braces for AR pistols.

Related: Darren Britto et al v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Table of Contents

Know Your Rights
Meet the Lead Plaintiff
Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty 
Bad Law, No Law
Thus Always to Tyrants
So You Want to Fight the ATF?
Court Is Adjourned

Know Your Rights

As citizens, we are all entitled to be plaintiffs against the government or an agency to challenge a law, statute, code or in my case, “rule,” if it violates any of our constitutional rights. United States law allows all citizens who believe that their constitutional rights have been trampled to bring a civil action against the government or one of its agencies to recover damages sustained as a result of that violation. 

Federal law allows us to sue for violations of our constitutional rights under 42 USC §1983. It’s important, however, to understand that claims alleging a violation of a constitutional right must be brought against a governmental agency or a governmental employee acting within a governmental capacity. 

As you read on, you will learn a little more about me and my background. I’ll also be writing about how the process started and moved to the point where I became a plaintiff, why I feel the ATF rule is complete government overreach, and other great organizations that can help you if you feel your gun rights have been violated.

Meet the Lead Plaintiff

I am a retired Marine with deployments to Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and I have been on two Joint Task Force 6 (JTF-6) counter-drug operations. After a 22-year career in the military, I became a private military contractor (PMC) in Afghanistan, working on State Department and Department of Defense projects for 18 months.  

Since 2012, I have been the Manager of Training and Education for Silverback Independent LLC, based in Canyon, Texas. I teach defensive shooting concepts, and I am also a License to Carry instructor in Texas. Between the U.S. military, private military, and everything since, I have trained on and carried firearms for over 30 years. 

Because of a service-connected injury to my rotator cuff, when I shoot rifles, the recoil transfers from the rifle through the stock and into my shoulder, exacerbating my injury. In 2019, before the ATF created the new rule, I purchased an AR pistol with a stabilizing brace, which complied with all existing laws at the time. 

AR pistol with stablizing brace
Firearm with stabilizing brace shown in 2022; it became illegal as of Jan. 31, 2023. (Photos: Darren Britto/
Wearing stabilizing brace
The stabilizing brace strapped to my forearm. (Photos: Darren Britto/

In the month or two before the new rule passed, but while it was being discussed, I realized that I would either have to register my firearm as a short-barreled rifle, turn it into the ATF, buy an upper receiver with a minimum barrel length of 16 inches, or take the brace off – it would still be operable without the brace but less accurate. Given the various options, I chose to take the brace off.

AR pistol with stabilizing brace removed
Firearm with stabilizing brace removed to be compliant. (Photos: Darren Britto/
Firearm with carbine upper and stabilizing brace
Carbine upper (16-inch barrel) and stabilizing brace lower – this is all legal. (Photo: Darren Britto/

Above is the same brace from the same manufacturer on a firearm with a 16-inch barrel, which was legal before the Jan. 31 ATF rule and is still legal.

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL)

In a different life, over 20 years ago, the Director of External Relations for WILL and I were teammates on a Joint Task Force mission, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. WILL is a nonprofit conservative law firm based in Milwaukee, that litigates on behalf of civil rights causes – like my own – for free, thanks to their donors.

Less than two weeks before the ATF registered its new rule on stabilizing braces, we were talking on the phone. My former teammate asked me if I was willing to put my money where my mouth was regarding my stance – and here we are. 

All citizens, regardless of political persuasion, can air their grievances with the government with civility in order to influence the government at whatever level to right a perceived wrong. We can protest, vote, petition, or, in my case, file a lawsuit. 

Before agreeing to be a party to the suit I had to look at the ramifications as a father, husband, and citizen in my community once my name was known. No one should be harassed or persecuted in any way because of a stance they take concerning their civil liberties.  

Bad law, no law

A stabilizing brace affixed to the rear portion of a firearm does not enhance or mitigate lethality. Some owners of these braces have them because of aesthetics, but many, like me, have a brace because it’s an adaptive device, almost like a prosthetic, that allows them to safely enjoy their Second Amendment right.

Stabilizing braces are designed to be strapped or braced to the wrist or forearm and are not used as a buttstock. Prior to Jan. 31, 2023, owners of the estimated 10 to 40 million braces throughout the U.S. were able to own them in an AR “pistol” configuration. 

On Jan. 31, the date ATF published the rule in the Federal Register, firearms with stabilizing braces were redefined after the fact – ex post facto – in one fell swoop by the ATF as short-barreled rifles that would need to be registered no later than May 31, 2023. 

Adaptive writing tool for pen or pencil; currently legal. (Photos: Darren Britto/

Just like stabilizing braces exist so individuals can enjoy their Second Amendment rights, there are also different types of braces so people can enjoy their First Amendment rights.

With a “braced” pen you can commit libel, forge, and embezzle. In the wrong hands, the pen is mightier than the sword, yet rules are not created to control free speech at the level that is being leveraged against those who want to exercise their gun rights. Gun laws only affect law-abiding citizens.

Thus always to tyrants

I’m not a particularly political person, and my leanings could be construed by most people as libertarian. “You do you,” as long as it doesn’t affect me, and in the end maybe we can at least agree to disagree. The proverbial hill I would die on is my Second Amendment right, which the other nine would not be safe without. Specifically, the other nine amendments to the Bill of Rights have no “teeth” without the right to bear arms.

The Constitution and specifically the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments found therein, doesn’t grant us freedoms, but specifically prohibits the government from taking them. They are considered inalienable God-given rights.

Libraries' worth of books have been written about the 27 words of the Second Amendment:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people
to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 



So you want to fight the ATF?

If you are not approached and asked to be a plaintiff as an individual or member of a party in a lawsuit, like myself, you can still fight the government’s overreach of using the ATF to infringe on your Second Amendment rights.  Here are just a couple of great organizations that are defending gun owners.

Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) is a nonprofit organization that protects, enforces, and fights for the people’s unrestricted access to – and exercise of – the very natural rights necessary to achieve and maintain a free world. FPC's focus is on the right to keep and bear arms and adjacent issues.

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is dedicated to promoting a better understanding about our Constitutional heritage to privately own and possess firearms. SAF has been a pioneer in innovative defense of the right to keep and bear arms through their publications, public education programs and legal action.

“The Second Amendment Foundation currently is involved in 43 legal cases protecting and expanding our gun rights. That would not be possible without the help of grassroots donations from gun owners. Making a donation to fund these lawsuits is sort of like being a plaintiff on your own.” – Alan Gottlieb, SAF Executive Vice President


Both organizations specialize in fighting anti-gun groups and the gun ban agenda through numerous initiatives to protect and educate the public at large and taking legal actions. 

Court is Adjourned

What are you willing to do to protect your Second Amendment right? Understandably and sadly, there needs to be an introspective moment before you put your name on the docket, depending on where you live. But you can still donate your time and get educated on exactly what your rights are so you can protect them better. Just as important as being the plaintiff is donating to support organizations that represent plaintiffs fighting for gun rights. 

revolver barrel loading graphic