Florida Attorney General Publishes Legal Opinion Asserting ATF is Violating Second Amendment Rights

Early in October, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a legal opinion concerning the use of stabilizing braces for handguns in the Sunshine State.  

Moody issued the opinion as a response to an inquiry from state Representative Shane Abbott to clarify several aspects of Florida law after a recently published Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) interpretation of a federal law. The ATF interpretation imposes National Firearms Act controls on handguns with stabilizing braces. 

Moody issued an opinion with respect to similarly worded provisions of Florida law determining that stabilizing braces don’t fall under the category of short-barreled rifles.

“The Second Amendment is alive and well in Florida and our state laws protect the gun rights of law-abiding citizens. We issued this important legal opinion to provide clarity about our state law as the federal government continues to overreach in an effort to over-regulate certain firearm accessories,” declared Moody.

The opinion is only concerned with Florida state law and has no impact on the ATF’s action. The opinion stated: “Unless and until judicially or legislatively clarified, I conclude that the definition of ‘short-barreled rifle,’ which the Legislature enacted in 1969, does not include a handgun, such as a pistol, to which a person attaches a stabilizing brace, because the use of such an optional accessory does not change the fundamental characteristics of the handgun.” 

In a separate case, the Florida state government is challenging the ATF’s interpretation of federal law. 

Prior to the Parkland massacre of 2018, Florida was a premier pro-gun state. That said, its pro-gun image took a beating after then-Republican Governor Rick Scott signed a gun control package into law made up of several measures such as a bump stock ban, raising the age to buy a firearm, and a red flag gun confiscation order.

Florida currently occupies a 27th place ranking per Guns & Ammo magazine’s best states for gun owners rankings. The Sunshine State still has to do significant work to improve its pro-gun reputation. Moody’s efforts should be commended no doubt. However, this should only serve as a first step for further action to be taken to roll back the gun control state that has been imposed on lawful Floridians.

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