Pistol Brace Rule Submitted by ATF

Pistol Brace Rule Submitted by ATF

Updated: 18 days, 1 hour, 24 minutes, 3 seconds ago

Justin Barrett, owner of Barrett Outdoors in Durant, Oklahoma, displays an AK pistol with a pistol stabilizing brace. On the counter next to him is a similar brace for an AR15 pistol.

Pistol Brace Rule Submitted by ATF

293-page rule labels guns with such braces as illegal 'SBRs'

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that it has submitted its final rule to “Address Stabilizing Braces, Accessories Used to Convert Pistols into Short-Barreled Rifles” for publication in the Federal Register. The Jan. 13 announcement doesn’t say when the 293-page rule will be published.

“The rule allows for a 120-day period for manufacturers, dealers, and individuals to register tax-free any existing NFA short-barreled rifles covered by the rule,” the announcement reads, referring to the National Firearms Act.

Virginia-based Gun Owners of America (GOA) released a statement condemning the action and decrying what it called the Biden administration’s “latest assault on the Second Amendment rights of gun owners.”

“This administration continues to find new ways to attack gun owners, and this time their target is brace-equipped firearms that allow persons with disabilities to safely and effectively use pistols. We will continue to work with our industry partners to amplify the disapproving voices in the firearms industry, and the Gun Owners Foundation, our sister legal arm, will be filing suit in the near future,” wrote Erich Pratt, GOA’s Senior Vice President wrote shortly after the announcement.

The new rule states that in the past, owners of the pistol braces violated federal firearms laws unwittingly. This rule gives them 120 days from publication in the Federal Register to register, destroy, or turn in their newly outlawed firearms. The rule waives any taxes or fees for registering firearms during the 120 days.

Attorney General Merrick Garland looks on as President Joe Biden speaks about crime prevention at the White House in Washington, on June 23, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

The number of Americans impacted by the new rule is difficult to determine. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) estimates that 3 million pistol braces have been sold. The GOA and other Second Amendment advocates put the number closer to 40 million.

At issue is a device introduced in 2012 to assist shooters with disabilities and others who may need help shooting pistols built on the AR 15 platform. The stabilizing brace attaches to the rear of the pistol and the shooter’s forearm. This allows the shooter a steadier aim while holding the pistol with one hand.

In 2014 the ATF received requests from law enforcement and firearms dealers about the possible reclassification of pistols equipped with stabilizers as short-barreled rifles (SBR) under the NFA. Those who contacted the ATF were concerned that the brace could be used as a stock, allowing the shooter to shoulder the pistol like a rifle.

Since then, the ATF has issued several open letters stating the braces did not change pistols into short-barreled rifles (SBRs). However, the new rule said that changes in the braces’ design and information disseminated on how to use them make clear that the items turn pistols into prohibited SBRs.

“For these reasons, the (DOJ) must amend the regulatory definition of ‘rifle,’” the new rule reads.

Erich Pratt, senior vice president for Gun Owners of America, in an interview on NTD’s Capitol Report on May 28, 2022. (NTD/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

The NFA was written in 1934 to address gangland violence. The gangsters of that era often shortened the barrels of rifles and shotguns to make them more concealable. So, the government outlawed such weapons unless the owners paid a $200 tax and registered the gun.

The NFA originally defined an SBR as “a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of fewer than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.”

The rule claims it will cost $266.9 million annually to enforce while promoting public safety by ensuring gun owners comply with the NFA and the Gun Control Act.

“Keeping our communities safe from gun violence is among the Department’s highest priorities,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote in the announcement.

“Today’s rule clarifies that firearm manufacturers, dealers, and individuals cannot evade these important public safety protections simply by adding accessories to pistols that transform them into short-barreled rifles.”

GOA to Push SHORT Act

Aidan Johnston, GOA’s Director of Federal Affairs, said the new rule is the next step in fighting for Second Amendment rights. According to Johnston, the new rule is more about control than safety.

“President Biden just initiated the largest federal gun registration scheme in our nation’s history without even the passage of a new law,” Johnston wrote in a statement released the day of the announcement.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) has introduced S.4986 in the U.S. Senate. Titled the “Stop Harassing Owners of Rifles Today Act.” (SHORT Act), it would remove short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, and certain other weapons from the definition of firearms in the NFA.

“GOA is actively working with Congress to pass a resolution blocking this rule under the Congressional Review Act, and we continue to lobby lawmakers to support Rep. Clyde and Sen. Marshall’s Stop Harassing Owners of Rifles Today (SHORT) Act. If President Biden will not sign such legislation, then Congress must defund this rogue agency,” Johnston wrote.

Michael Clements

Michael Clements has more than 30 years of experience in print journalism, having worked at newspapers in Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma. He focuses mainly on the Second Amendment and individual rights. He is based in Durant, Oklahoma.