The Devil In The Details Of ATF's Proposed Rules On Pistol Braces

We’ve got more details on the ATF’s new proposed rules for pistol stabilizing braces on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. Alex Bosco of SB Tactical joins the show to break down all of the problems for gun owners and the firearms industry contained within the ATF and DOJ’s proposed guidance on pistol stabilizing braces, as well as what gun owners can do to try to stop the attempt to coerce Americans to register millions of guns under the National Firearms Act.

As we reported on Thursday, the proposed rules for stabilizing braces aren’t really hard and fast rules at all. Instead, the ATF says it will use a number of things to determine on a case-by-case basis whether or not a firearm is a pistol under federal statutes, or a short-barreled rifle which would have to be registered as an NFA item. There’s no way for existing gun owners to know exactly what the ATF would consider their AR-style pistol to be, but the agency is taking a “better safe than sorry” approach by recommending that all AR-style pistol owners be allowed to register their guns without paying the normal $200 tax stamp.

Bosco tells me that if the rule does take effect early next year, he’s intent on suing the agency over the new regulation. I’m glad to hear it, and I’m sure that sharper legal minds than mine can craft an argument against the proposed regulations. If it comes down to that I’ll be happy to support litigation challenging the regulations, but I’m of the mindset that it’s better to try to nip bad proposals in the bud first before attempting to get a court to overturn a bad reg or law that’s already taken effect.

We don’t have much time to use our voices, however. Bosco points out that the public comment period for the rule change is only 18 days long, and that includes both the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Comments must be received by midnight on January 4th, 2021, which makes it even more imperative for gun owners and concerned citizens to submit their public comment to the ATF as well as contacting their members of Congress, U.S. Senators, and the White House as soon as possible.

To submit your comment to the ATF via email, click here, and then use the “comment now” button the upper right hand of the website. Note that these comments are public, so your name will be available for all to see. If you’d rather submit your comment in writing, you’d better write fast, but the address to send your comments is:

Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

99 New York Ave. NE, Mail Stop 6N-518, Washington, DC 20226

If you want to fax your comments instead, use a cover letter with your personal information and a separate page for your comment. It’s also important when submitting written or faxed comments that you include the specific docket number for the pistol brace rules, which is ATF 2020R-10. According to the ATF:

Both the cover sheet and comment must reference this docket number (2020R-10). For comments submitted by mail or facsimile, information contained on the cover sheet will not appear when posted on the internet but any personal identifying information that appears within a comment will not be redacted by ATF and it will appear on the internet.

Keep your comments civil, please. No matter how much you might want to use this as an opportunity to tell the ATF what you really think of the agency, that’s not going to be of much help right now.

I’ll be submitting my comments this weekend, and I plan on objecting to the arbitrary guidelines that the ATF has laid out to determine whether or not an AR-style pistol with a stabilizing brace is actually a short barreled rifle that requires registration under the National Firearms Act. This not only affects manufacturers of pistol braces like SB Tactical, but makes it virtually impossible for owners of guns with pistol braces to know if they’re in compliance with the law.

While I’d love to see the NFA disappear completely, that’s not going to be the subject of my comments. I’m going to stick to the issue at hand and focus only on the arbitrary nature of the ATF’s planned determination about firearms with pistol braces.

There may be some gun owners out there who don’t see this as a big deal. Maybe they don’t own any firearms with pistol braces, or maybe they’re pleased that they can register their guns without paying the usual $200 tax. Whatever the reasoning, when you look at all of the ATF’s recent actions, including the raid on Polymer80 and the agency’s apparent crackdown on unfinished frames and receivers, it’s pretty clear that the agency’s career bureaucrats are gearing up for a series of administrative actions that will have a chilling effect on our Second Amendment rights. From ignoring their own previous determinations to issuing vague standards that are impossible to comply with, the agency is building a web of red tape to ensnare legitimate and lawful gun owners, and we need to speak as one in opposition to this power grab.