It’s not a full reversal of the ATF’s decision classifying Q, LLC’s Honey Badger pistol as a short-barreled rifle, but it’s a step in the right direction. That’s according to Josh Savani, NRA-ILA’s director of research and information, who joins me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. with an update on latest efforts to rein in the agency’s abuses.
As the Washington Free Beacon‘s Stephen Gutowski reported on Wednesday, the ATF followed up its original cease-and-desist demand to gunmaker Q, LLC with a letter this week advising the company that the order has been suspended for 60 days while the Department of Justice reviews the ATF’s determination that the Honey Badger is actually a short-barreled rifle that falls under the auspices of the National Firearms Act instead of an AR-15 pistol with an integrated stabilizing brace.
“The purpose of this suspension is to allow the United States Department of Justice to further review the applicability of the National Firearms Act to the manufacture and transfer of the model ‘Honey Badger Pistol’ firearm,” ATF chief counsel Joel Roessner said in a letter. The move gave the gun company and owners of such weapons—which have been legal since 2012—a 60-day reprieve.
That puts a final determination off until after the November elections, and Savani says if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris wins, he expects the ATF to take a hard line on the Honey Badger, though the new administration will also have bigger fish to fry.
As Savani points out, if a Biden administration pursues its gun control agenda, then it won’t just be the Honey Badger that would need to be registered under the NFA. Virtually every semi-automatic rifle, pistol, and shotgun that the administration declares to be “assault weapons” would either have to be handed over to the federal government or registered under the NFA. Possession of an unregistered NFA device is punishable by ten years in a federal prison and a fine of $250,000 per violation, and given the scope of the guns and magazines that Joe Biden wants to ban, tens of millions of legal gun owners could be turned into potential felons overnight if they refuse to comply with the order to register their arms with the government.
For now, anyway, that is a theoretical battle, and Savini says there is still work to be done with the ATF and the issue of pistol stabilizing braces. First and foremost, the ATF needs to come up with a clear standard for manufacturers, rather than the “I know it when I see it” approach to determining whether or not a pistol with a stabilizing brace is actually a short-barreled rifle. That arbitrary standard needs to be replaced with a regulation that is not only easily understood, but also makes sense.
Savani describes himself as “cautiously optimistic” that the Honey Badger issue can be resolved quickly, and says the White House is aware of the Honey Badger issue (which likely explains why DOJ is now reviewing the ATF’s decision), as are members of Congress. I think that cautious optimism is contingent on who wins in November, however.
With Election Day less than three weeks away, though, I expect that the bureaucrats in the ATF can stall any final determination on stabilizing braces until after we know who’ll be occupying the White House in 2021. The suspension of the cease-and-desist letter may not be everything that Q, LLC CEO Adam Johnson wants or needs, but for the moment, it may be the most he can hope for.