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20K+ Comments (So Far) On ATF's Proposed Pistol Brace Rules

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Federal Register is showing 21,444 public comments on its proposed rules for firearms with pistol stabilizing braces. That’s an increase of about 8,000 or so compared to Monday afternoon, which is a pretty good pace, especially considering the fact that the only people talking about the moment are the fairly-plugged in members of the 2A community.

The word is starting to get out now, at least to those gun owners most directly impacted by the proposed rules; the millions of Americans who own a pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace. SB Tactical and its CEO Alex Bosco have been talking about the problems with the ATF’s vague and arbitrary standards for what makes a brace-equipped gun a pistol or a short-barreled rifle that must be registered with the government, and on Monday the brace manufacturer Aero Precision sent an email to its customers urging them to submit their comment to the agency while there’s still time to weigh in.

If you are receiving this email, you are part of Team Aero and our industry desperately needs your help.   The BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) recently released information on how they will be determining the legality of Pistol Stabilizing Braces and whether they should fall within the National Firearms Act. There are countless concerning angles to this topic, but we will try to get straight to the point.

The most recent notice outlines criteria that are judged purely on subjective determinations as opposed to definitive statements that clearly identify what does or does not constitute a legal configuration of a braced firearm. This leaves both firearms manufacturers and owners at the mercy of ad hoc judgement of the BATFE. It allows for case by case determinations by individual agents in which no manufacturer or gun owner, let alone the agent themselves, can reasonably know what is legal or illegal.

Aero Precision does not agree or support this type of re-interpretation in which millions of law-abiding gun owners can be affected, and worst case, turned in to criminals at no action of their own. This could also have a lasting and catastrophic impact on the firearms industry and American businesses like Aero Precision. Thousands of jobs will be lost and the estimated economic impact to our industry eclipses $1-billion over the next year alone.

We urge you to review the BATFE’s most recent proposal, get informed, and take immediate action.

WHAT CAN I DO?

First and foremost, visit the link below and comment by January 4, 2021. This topic is currently open for comment on the Federal Register. It has been conveniently opened for comment over the holiday season and is a very short 14 day window. Keep comments professional and double check all information as improper comments will be discarded.

www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/12/18/2020-27857/objective-factors-for-classifying-weapons-with-stabilizing-braces  

SHARE this information with everyone you know. This determination has an impact well outside Pistol Stabilizing Braces. It affects us all.  Write your local and state representatives and tell them you do not support this type of action.  Support the Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition (FRAC) www.fracaction.org

We appreciate your support of our company, our industry and most of all our rights as Americans. We will continue to stand against the constant unjust actions against the 2nd Amendment and hope you will do the same.

I’ve had a few folks ask me online if submitting a comment will really make a difference. Isn’t the ATF going to just approve this rule anyway?

Well, that hasn’t always been the case. Back in 2015 the agency backed off of a proposed rule banning “green tip” ammunition after a flood of opposition. The ATF actually threw in the towel a few days before the public comment period closed, releasing a statement that said, in part:

Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen, the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study. Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.

The green tip ammo ban never came up again, though I suppose it very well could re-emerge in a Biden/Harris administration. But five years ago gun owners were able to quash the attempted ammo ban by speaking out.

Back in 2015, though, the public comment period was a full 30 days. Now, the ATF’s proposed guidance on pistol braces is only open for comment for 18 days, and that includes Christmas and Christmas Eve as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. We have 13 days left in the comment period as of December 22nd, but I’m guessing that submissions will be pretty slow over four of those.

Still, gun owners at the moment are responding to this proposal at a greater rate than they did in 2015. Right now the ATF is averaging 4,288 comments per day. If that holds up over the full 18-day period, we’ll finish with about 77,200 comments.

If gun owners had reacted to the green tip ammo ban with the same intensity over 30 days, the ATF would have received nearly 130,000 comments, not 80,000. So yes, gun owners are responding to the proposed guidance. The question is, will the ATF respond in the same manner that it did five years ago, or will it push forward in the face of even more opposition?

Apr 19, 2021 6:30 PM ET