While we’re rounding the corner of another comment period with the ATF, there actually is a promising piece of legislation that was introduced back in March. The firearm community has been abuzz about the DOJ’s recommended rule proposal on pistol braces. Cam Edwards reported on this earlier in the week and noted:
…the DOJ and ATF are proposing the adoption of a new “worksheet” that the firearms industry and individual gun owners can use to determine if an AR-style pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace will likely be considered by the ATF to be a pistol or a short-barreled rifle subject to registration under the National Firearms Act.
That’s quaint, isn’t it? A vague set of standards for the peasants to try to comport to. The answer to this mess is in the statutory definitions of firearms and in particular this case, short barreled rifles (SBRs). Representative Mann (R-KS-1) Introduced H.R.1758 – Home Defense and Competitive Shooting Act of 2021 on March 10, 2021. The summary of this bill tells us most of what we need to know:
This bill removes short-barreled rifles (barrels of less than 16 inches in length) from the definition of firearms for purposes of the National Firearms Act. It also eliminates the prohibition on the transportation of such rifles in interstate commerce and treats persons who acquire or possess a short-barreled rifle as meeting the registration or licensing requirements for such rifle where such requirements are determined by reference to the National Firearms Act.
The bill preempts state or local laws that impose a tax or recordkeeping requirements on short-barreled rifles.
The Department of Justice must destroy records relating to the registration of certain rifles within one year after the enactment of this bill.
I’ll concede the likelihood of a measure like this being passed in both chambers and signed into law by the Biden-Harris administration is nil, however we should still celebrate Mann’s efforts here. What a wallop, not only would SBRs be treated like regular firearms, the law would be caused to destroy any records the government may have on any existing firearms that meet the new definition. Looking at the text of the bill, which can be viewed HERE in full, I found a fun little tongue and cheek remark in a section header:
SEC. 3. ELIMINATION OF DISPARATE TREATMENT OF SHORT-BARRELED RIFLES USED FOR LAWFUL PURPOSES.
There is some credence about how the treatment is “disparate”, or in my humble opinion prejudiced, towards SBRs. A parallel can be drawn from the “black guns matter” moniker/group coined by Maj Toure, in a new movement; “little guns matter.” If this were any other civil right, the anti-freedom caucus would have a field day trying to eviscerate such measures. What if a person had to be a certain height in order to go to church? How about if there were a fat tax for obese people…bad example, I think the progressives could get behind a nanny measure like that. But you should be getting the point here.
The days of the prohibition era storing of short rifles and shotguns in brief cases are over. If anything, we have a double entendre here, as prohibition was an abysmal failure, as are all the freedom limiting measures that get introduced. Keep in mind the same people that brought you the National Firearms Act were the same ones that could only bust Al Capone on tax evasion. Not really making a compelling argument on why their ideas and or methodologies are good. Just proof that prohibition does not work, hint hint. SBRs have many “sporting” uses, beyond being effective self-defense firearms. Loop this into the pistol brace debate, and you have a match made in heaven.
Edwards, in recent show notes concerning the pistol brace rule proposal, points to the common denominator in all these schemes:
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.
As I said earlier, this legislation is not going to make it to the oval office, and even if it did I doubt Biden would have it whispered into his ear that this is a bill he should sign into law. The importance of this bill is that it was introduced. Many laws existed as bills introduced several times before they were given the opportunity to blossom into statute. Should the political climate change in the years to come, this bill will be waiting there to liberate gun owners from whatever awful ATF rules get introduced now. If cemented into law, SBRs will be protected, and little rifles will be treated as equals. On that note, do show your support and reach out to your representatives about this bill, it certainly won’t hurt the cause. Little guns matter…