The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives suddenly withdrew its notice and request for comments on the “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with ‘Stabilizing Braces’,” that was published Dec. 18 and had created no small amount of ill will for the holidays.
The agency released the withdrawal notice Wednesday only five days after its initial announcement, suggesting something dramatic happened. If the agency had experienced an Ebenezer Scrooge moment, the withdrawal came as an early Christmas present for American gun owners.
“Upon further consultation with the Department of Justice and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General,” said the notice, signed by ATF Associate Deputy Director Marvin G. Richardson, “ATF is withdrawing, pending further Department of Justice review, the notice and request for comments entitled ‘Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with ‘Stabilizing Braces’,” that was published on December 18, 2020. 85 FR 82516. As explained in the notice, the proposed guidance was not a regulation. The notice informed and invited comment from the industry and public on a proposed guidance prior to issuing a final guidance document. The withdrawal of the guidance does not change any law, regulation, or other legally binding requirement.”
However, the Firearms Policy Coalition notes in a lengthy bulletin about the new development, “While the ATF is apparently withdrawing this particular ‘guidance’ at this time, the matter is still ‘pending further Department of Justice review.’”
The National Rifle Association released a statement that noted, “The withdraw notice came only hours after Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08) and 89 other Congressional Representatives sent a letter to ATF asking the agency to ‘immediately take action to correct this injustice.’
“As we reported, the ‘guidance’ did nothing to fix ATF’s history of confusing and conflicting determinations on pistol braces,” NRA said.
Read the full letter here➡️ https://t.co/AbKySKJvp2
— NRA (@NRA) December 23, 2020
The National Shooting Sports Foundation also released a statement that took a swipe at ATF: “NSSF has long requested the ATF to publish objective criteria by which firearm manufacturers can readily produce firearms equipped with arm braces in compliance with the law. To date, the criteria is subjective and open to interpretation on a case-by-case basis. The guidance proposed by the ATF last week did little, unfortunately, to clear the ambiguity that exists with subjective criteria.”
As noted in the Washington Examiner by Paul Bedard, there are an estimated 4 million AR-type pistols with arm braces, and a change in the rules could make them overnight felons, “gun advocates said.”
According to Bedard’s report, “Georgia Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, plans to introduce legislation to protect the pistols fitted with the adjustable braces. She has also called for a defund movement against the ATF.”
Perhaps nothing gets the attention of bureaucrats quicker than a threat to their funding. Bearing Arms is reporting that ATF received more than 50,000 comments over the course of a few days following the original announcement. From all indications, all comments opposed any change in how ATF views pistol stabilizing braces, and it appears clear the ATF did not expect the overwhelming negative reaction.