ATF Email Announces End Of Accessory Classifications

Earlier today, I wrote about a pending Supreme Court case that may undermine the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF’s) ability to make unilateral decisions that have an impact on regular gun owners.

Part of the problem is that bureaucrats at the ATF can make a decision unilaterally and have it impact the entire firearm industry.

It seems the ATF wanted to help support that case and issued an email recently where it announced an immediate end to accessory classifications:

Discontinuance of Accessory Classifications

Effective Immediately:

The Firearms Technology Industry Services Branch (FTISB) classifies firearms as defined by the Gun Control Act (GCA) and National Firearms Act (NFA) based on the configuration and the design features of the firearm as submitted by members of the industry.

Effective immediately, any requests for a determination on how an accessory affects the classification of a firearm under the GCA or NFA must include a firearm with the accessory already installed. Except in cases of conditional import determinations, FTISB will not issue a determination on an accessory unless it is attached to the submitted firearm.

If you have previously submitted a sample accessory for classification, FTISB will be returning your sample without classification. FTISB will contact you in the near future with further instructions to facilitate the return of your sample.

Now, this might not look like much to most folks, and I get that.

However, over at The Firearms Blog, they have some theories as to what may be bringing this on:

While the email is unsettling, I’m reluctant to declare that the sky is falling just yet. With only a few hours of analysis, I’ve come up with some likely motivations behind the announcement. I welcome your input, both in agreement or to the contrary, in the comments section below.


In strict terms, an accessory submitted by itself could be classified in different ways depending on the host weapon for which it is attached. An example would be a Pistol Stabilizing Brace that could be attached to either an AR15 patterned weapon as well as a compact pistol.


There could be accessories that would enhance rates of fire on some host weapons while not enhancing rates of fire on others,


As more and more brace products enter the market, the ATF may be concerned with how they are applied to each host weapon for which they are designed…

Honestly, that assessment makes as much sense as anything I’ve been able to come up with.

However, the problem for me is that the ATF can just up and decide to make whatever changes it wants and there’s jack any of us can do about it. This should never be the state of affairs in our nation.

Congress has shirked its legislative responsibilities by writing laws that allow regulatory bodies not just to create law but enforce it. This means more and more regulations as time goes on in an effort for these bodies to justify their existence. Whether it’s the EPA or the ATF, they continue to create rules with the stroke of a pen, and that should never be the case.

I know why Congress wrote the laws that way. The thinking was that a regulatory body could react much quicker than a legislative one, thus making them more agile and better able to fit the needs of the nation.

In theory.

But in practice, it doesn’t work. This is just another example of why.