Pistol brace ban just next step in gun restrictions

Pistol brace ban just next step in gun restrictions
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Last week, the ATF banned pistol braces attached to the end of rifles. These braces help stabilize AR-style pistols while being shot, but since it allowed some to hold them up to their shoulders, suddenly, they can’t be allowed.

I guess the ATF didn’t realize bad actors can just put a stock on an AR pistol and call it a day. They won’t blink over pistol braces.

Yet, this isn’t the first such regulation. If we’re not careful, it won’t be the last. It’s just the first step.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland signed ATF final rule 2021R-08F on Jan. 13, reclassifying millions of commonly owned pistols that have stabilizing braces. The ATF has branded these guns as illegal short-barreled rifles and shotguns, which puts them under the National Firearms Act of 1934. The rules are somewhat ambiguous, critics say.

The Biden Administration now requires gun owners to register these types of firearms with the federal government. The Congressional Research Service says that up to 40 million of them are currently in civilian ownership, and some say it’s unlikely all of them will be registered.

The rule changes the definition of “rifle” to include that which is “designed, redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.”

In 2018, the Trump administration’s banned bumpstocks, devices that allow rapidly fire multiple rounds from semi-automatics. This month, a federal appeals court reversed the bump stock ban, which had classified bump stocks as machine gun. The court ruling says, “A plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of ‘machine gun’ set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act.”

Now, bringing up the bump stock ban is interesting for a number of reasons, and not just because the ATF unilaterally banned them by completely twisting the definition of a machine gun.

What’s interesting to me is that this follows the Bruen decision. While that wasn’t invoked in the above quote, that’s something that’s likely to hang over the head of pretty much any proceedings looking at the constitutionality of what the ATF just did.

Is there any text and history suggesting that the Founding Fathers actually believed one should ban firearms of a certain size? Of course not.

Admittedly, that wasn’t much of a thing back in those days, but that’s irrelevant from a legal standpoint. At least as far as this layman can see it.

And that’s good because it wasn’t that long ago when bump stocks were banned. Without some significant pushback, this banning of things in dribs and drabs will continue, much as it has for quite some time. The ATF will slowly regulate everything into oblivion until we’re left with nothing.

The truth is that while some may have used their AR pistols with a pistol brace as a short-barreled rifle, few used them in any illegal capacity. Those inclined to do that would just slap a stock on a pistol and call it a day. This isn’t going to trip anyone up but law-abiding citizens who represent no threat to anyone.

And this won’t be the last time we see the ATF try and do something like this.