The public comment period on the ATF’s new proposed rule that would redefine millions of AR-style pistols as short barreled rifles is now open (you can submit your comment here), but before you sound off, I’d encourage you to check out today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co with Alex Bosco, the founder of SB Tactical. As the head of one of the largest companies manufacturing pistol braces, Bosco is intimately familiar with the ATF’s previous rules and regulations surrounding stabilizing braces and AR-style pistols, and as vague and troublesome as they may have been, he says the new proposal from the Biden administration is much worse.
In fact, Bosco says that the proposed rule will give the ATF to declare virtually every pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace a short barreled rifle that must be registered with the federal government, and even AR-style pistols that don’t have a brace attached could suddenly become a rifle in the eyes of the ATF if an optic or other accessory were attached. That’s because the ATF is trying to redefine what makes a rifle a rifle, but the proposed definition is so vague and arbitrary that there’s really no way for gun owners to know for certain whether or not they’re in compliance with the law.
As the Firearms Policy Coalition describes the proposal:
ATF’s new proposed rule is an attempt to rewrite the law in an arbitrary and exceptionally aggressive manner. In short, ATF proposes to re-define the word “rifle” by essentially appending “oh, and braced pistols too, sometimes” to the definition.
This rule would create a “points system,” where if a firearm gets more than 4 points in two separate sections, the firearm is automatically considered an SBR. The criteria include arbitrary and vague factors such as whether the brace “incorporates shoulder stock design feature(s).”
The factors are written in such a way that simple, everyday changes in a firearm, including simply removing a sight or changing the magazine, can add points to the total. Rather than clarifying the law, the ATF’s attempt at administrative lawmaking seeks to make owning braced firearms a felonious minefield.
Besides the potential to turn millions of legal gun owners into federal firearm felons overnight, Bosco says the proposed rule would result in thousands of jobs being lost in the firearms industry, including hundreds of employees at SB Tactical. The economic impact could run as high as a billion dollars, and the loss of these jobs would be devastating to the communities where these businesses are located.
And for what purpose? As Bosco points out, the ATF could only find two instances where AR-style pistols were used in crimes, which is an indication that they’re not exactly the weapon of choice for violent criminals. The impact of the ATF’s proposed rule would be mainly felt by gun owners who legally purchased their AR-style pistols or stabilizing braces, including those with physical impairments, not those who misuse firearms to further their criminal activity.
Bosco says he and others have been asking the ATF to provide clear standards for pistol braces, but the 71-page rule that the ATF came up with isn’t the answer. While the proposal includes a worksheet that’s supposed to allow manufacturers and gun owners to know for certain whether or not a particular firearm would be considered a pistol or a rifle, Bosco points out the fine print on the worksheet that states the ATF “may” consider your gun an SBR even if the worksheet indicates otherwise.
This rule, in other words, would make it easy for the ATF to go after the millions of gun owners who lawfully possess pistols with stabilizing braces while making it much harder for those gun owners to know whether or not they’re on the right side of the law. It’s a backdoor gun ban that uses the regulatory power of the ATF instead of legislation that must be approved by Congress, and its implementation would be an egregious abuse of power and a disaster for American gun owners and the firearms industry.