The public comment period for the ATF’s proposed rules for pistol stabilizing braces just opened last Friday, but already more than 13,000 comments have been received by the agency. That’s a good start, but we still need gun owners and Second Amendment supporters to add their voice to the growing chorus that’s objecting to the ATF’s proposal.
As a reminder, here’s what those new proposed rules would mean for the millions of Americans who own a pistol with a stabilizing brace:
In the ATF’s proposed rule change, the agency outlines several supposedly objective factors that will determine whether a handgun equipped with a pistol stabilizing brace is considered a pistol or a short-barreled rifle that must be registered under the National Firearms Act.
The problem is that while the ATF outlines what those many factors are (caliber; weight; length; attachment method; and even after-market accessories like scopes and sights, to name a few), the agency doesn’t provide gun owners with any specifics that would take the guessing out of whether or not the ATF would consider the gun a pistol or an item that must be registered under the National Firearms Act.
The draft proposal is full of weasel words like “may,” “might,” and “likely,” but fail to provide gun owners with a clear standard and set of rules that can be followed. In fact, the ATF adds that “no single factor or combination of factors is necessarily dispositive, and FATD examines each weapon holistically on a case-by-case basis. Because of changes in design or configuration of a weapon or attachment, as well as future changes in technology, this list is not exhaustive and other factors may become relevant to a weapon’s classification.”
How are gun owners supposed to know if their gun is now considered an NFA item by the ATF? They can’t, because the ATF makes those determinations on a case-by-case basis. If, however, the ATF decides that you’re in possession of an unregistered NFA item, you could be facing a decade in federal prison.
So, the agency plans “to implement a separate process by which current possessors of affected stabilizer-equipped firearms may choose to register such firearms to be compliant with the NFA.”
That’s the crux of the proposed rules; make them so vague and fuzzy that gun owners can’t know if they’re in compliance, and then offer them an amnesty to register their guns just to be on the safe side.
If you want to comment on the proposal, the public comment period ends on January 4th. Until then, the easiest way to submit your response is by visiting the Federal Register at this link:
Once there, click the “submit a formal comment” button on the top right of the webpage. You’ll have to give your full name and address along with your comment, and that information will be able to be viewed online. For those who want to keep their info and comments offline, you can also mail or fax your comments, but again, they must be received by midnight on January 4th.
You can mail your comment to:
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;
ATTN: ATF 2020R-10.
If you prefer to fax your comments, the number is 202-648-9741. Your fax must use at least 12-point font, written on 8 1/2 x 11 paper, be no more than five pages in length, and be signed by you along with your full name and mailing address.
The response from gun owners has been great so far, but we need to keep up the momentum. Hopefully this guide will help, so please consider sharing this on your own social media and with your fellow gun owners to help ensure that our voices are as loud as possible in objecting to the arbitrary and capricious standards that the ATF wants to formally adopt when it comes to pistol braces.