Preliminary ATF documents published by the Prince Law Blog may show a move to classify firearms outfitted with pistol braces as items controlled under the National Firearms Act (NFA). If the move is formalized, it could potentially affect hundreds of thousands or even millions of gun owners in the United States, forcing them to make a choice: remove their pistol braces and destroy them, register their guns as NFA items or change the barrel length to anything over 16 inches. The revised look at the way pistol stabilizing braces are categorized is not necessarily a surprise. For years the ATF has scrutinized the configurations of certain braces, announced that a brace cannot be legal shouldered and most recently issued a cease and desist letter to Q, LLC regarding the brace on the honey badger pistol.
As background, rifles with barrels under 16 inches in length and a shoulder stock are classified as regulated items under the 1934 National Firearms Act. Invented and pioneered by SB Tactical in 2012, pistol stabilizing braces focused on allowing shooters to better handle large pistols, many of which are built around the AR-15 platform. These pistol braces rapidly gained popularity as shooters saw they could have rifle-style firearms as pistols without registering them as NFA items. The below unofficial document titled Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces” has yet to be published in the federal register and may change or be discarded completely.
We’ll keep you posted on any additional information as it becomes available.
Pistol Braces @ TFB:
Posted on December 16, 2020
In a 16 page draft copy of proposed rulemaking specifying “Objective Factors for Classifying Stablizing Braces”, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has proposed entering into rulemaking to delineate the objective factors considered when “evaluating firearms with an attached stabilizing brace to determine whether they are considered firearms under the National Firearms Act (‘NFA’) and/or the Gun Control Act (‘GCA)” and the Department of Justice’s plan to “subsequently implement a separate process for current possessors of stabilizer-equipped firearms to choose to register such firearms in compliance with the NFA.”
While the proposed rulemaking has not yet been published in the Federal Register, it is expected to be published in the upcoming weeks and interestingly – seemingly in violation of the law – ATF is only providing a 14 day comment period, at least, pursuant to the draft copy. Read more at the Price Law Blog.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Docket No. 2020R-10
Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces”
AGENCY: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Department of Justice.
ACTION: Notice; request for comment.
SUMMARY: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) is publishing the objective factors it considers when evaluating firearms with an attached stabilizing brace to determine whether they are considered firearms under the National Firearms Act (“NFA”) and/or the Gun Control Act (“GCA”). ATF publishes this notice to inform and invite comment from the industry and public on the proposed guidance, Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces,” prior to issuing a final document. Upon issuance of final guidance, ATF will provide additional information to aid persons and companies in complying with Federal laws and regulations. This notice also outlines ATF’s enforcement priorities regarding persons who, prior to publication of this notice, made or acquired, in good faith, firearms equipped with a stabilized brace. Finally, this notice previews ATF’s and the Department of Justice’s plan to subsequently implement a separate process for current possessors of stabilizer-equipped firearms to choose to register such firearms in compliance with the NFA, including an expedited application process and the retroactive exemption of such firearms from the collection of NFA taxes.
DATES: Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted on or before [INSERT DATE 14 DAYS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER]. Commenters should be aware that the electronic Federal Docket Management System will not accept comments after midnight Eastern time on the last day of the comment period.
Full files at Prince Law Blog here.