For a compelling breakdown of this topic, CLICK HERE to hear Michael Ware of Iowa Firearm Coalition discuss the ATF Pistol Brace rule on “The Newsline”, NewsTalk 1540 KXEL radio, yesterday. It is well worth a listen, as he brings to light the more insidious potential effects from implementation of this rule which may not have occurred to you.
Back in November of 2012, a Federal Firearms Licensee submitted the first forearm stabilizing brace to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), asking if affixing this device to an AR-style pistol would change the pistol’s classification under Federal firearms rules. The submitter explained that the purpose of these stabilizing braces is to assist shooters with disabilities or those with limited strength to fire heavy pistols.
The ATF reviewed the submission and determined that pistol braces did not change the classification of the firearm (i.e., did not make it a regulated firearm and no NFA Tax Stamp or registration of the firearm was required).
Over the course of the next decade, many manufacturers devised pistol braces to assist shooters with control and improve their ability to shoot accurately. Many returning wounded veterans would not be able to shoot a firearm without these braces. Over the course of more than ten years, countless shooters purchased these – some for multiple firearms, to improve accuracy and stability. While the ATF estimates that there are approximately three million of these braces currently affixed to firearms, industry experts think that number is exceedingly low.
“At least three million guns with stabilizing braces are in circulation in the U.S., according to the ATF. Estimates by the Congressional Research Service indicate there are currently between 10 million and 40 million stabilizing braces in circulation.”
Whatever the number, the point is that these braces were added to firearms after the ATF held (for more than ten years), that they are perfectly legal.
HOWEVER, and without ANY legal action taken by Congress, the ATF made a new determination that because these braces being affixed to AR pistols lengthened the firearm and were intended to be shot from the shoulder, NOW those braces did, in fact, change the classification of the firearm to one falling under the NFA (requiring registration).
Here is a link to the Final Rule 2021-R-08F from the ATF
WHAT THIS MEANS
This new rule was eventually signed by U.S. Attorney General, Merrick Garland, (who was coincidentally sworn into office in March of 2021). The rule became effective on January 31, 2023. The ATF unilaterally proclaimed that “Previous ATF classifications involving “stabilizing brace” attachments for firearms are superseded and considered null and void effective January 31, 2023”. Meaning that, since January 2023, a stabilizing brace has been illegal and owning one makes you a felon. The ATF did allow a “grace period” for firearms owners to comply: Compliance with the new rule was extended to May 31, 2023.
This means that owners of firearms with stabilizing braces must either submit their firearm(s) with a stabilizing brace to the ATF for consideration to register the firearm (remember, there are millions of these in use today) OR destroy the firearm (because it is now—after ten years in common use—illegal) OR become a felon.
Are YOU a FELON? Who knows? There have been court challenges, of course, to this new rule and just yesterday, the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals filed an injunction preventing the ATF from enforcing its new rule – but the injunction appears to only apply to those who filed the appeals case.
“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday enjoined the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from enforcing its new rule against gun owners and Second Amendment groups who filed a lawsuit challenging the regulation [emphasis added]. The temporary injunction comes days before a deadline for individuals to register their pistol braces with ATF, destroy them, or remove the accessories from their weapons. Those that do not comply with the regulation by May 31 will be forced to pay a fee.”
This is yet another example, in a long line of federal agency overreach. Alphabet agencies, like the ATF, are essentially making laws affecting the American people, without Congressional action and without the checks and balances established in our form of government.
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