ATF's Decision On Honey Badger Pistol Illustrates Huge Problem

The ATF is the final arbiter on what is and what isn’t allowed when it comes to guns. That’s why the state of California is suing the agency in an effort to put an end to so-called “ghost guns.”

This is also how bump stocks were perfectly cool to own one day, then suddenly they were classified as machineguns the next. Oh, there was a grace period for turning them in or destroying them, but the point stands.

Now, there’s another controversy with the ATF. It seems an AR-15 pistol with an arm brace–something similar to weapons offered by a wide variety of other manufacturers–stirred the ire of the bureaucrats charged with overseeing firearms in this country.

Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) has issued the following statement regarding ATF’s action against Q, LLC’s (Q) Honey Badger Pistol and its status as a purported short barrel rifle:

ATF has once again unlawfully and unconstitutionally exceeded its authority and changed the law by issuing a new determination that is devoid of logic and reason, contains no explanation as to the manner in which it arrived at its conclusion, conflicts with its prior determinations, and embodies the very essence of “arbitrary and capricious”.

After examining a sample Q Honey Badger Pistol, the ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) concluded that “the objective features of the Honey Badger firearm, configured with the subject stabilizing brace, indicate the firearm is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder.” FATD further concluded that it is a SBR as defined by the National Firearms Act (NFA) and Gun Control Act (GCA). Yet, ATF does not explain how it arrived at this conclusion other than vague generalizations that the firearm was “designed” to be fired from the shoulder and by virtue of its barrel length meeting the definition of a SBR.

Earlier this summer, regarding the possible action regarding pistol braces, we said that our “Constitution requires an accountable legislature to enact just laws within specific, limited, and enumerated powers, not decreed by nameless bureaucrats with a political agenda, or even a president.” And when the ATF previously reversed a long-standing and well-understood position that bump stock-type devices were not machine guns, FPC and Firearms Policy Foundation led the charge with the first lawsuit in the nation against ATF’s unlawful and unconstitutional act.

And, honestly, this is a big chunk of the problem here.

See, the ATF can decide arbitrarily whether something is allowed or disallowed to such a degree that it becomes impossible for a law-abiding citizen to remain up to date as to what is and isn’t forbidden.

Take the back and forth on arm braces in the past. First, you could have them and even shoulder them. Then, you couldn’t. Then, you could, then…honestly, I don’t even know right now. I don’t have any, so I haven’t worried too much about it.

Still, the problem is that when bureaucrats can arbitrarily step in and declare something illegal, we have a problem. That’s not how our laws should work. We elect legislators to determine law, and while I get the arguments for empowering agencies to create regulations, that comes with legitimate problems, such as this kind of nonsense.

It’s well past time for the ATF to be wrangled in.