The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on Friday will publish a proposed regulations change headlined “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with Stabilizer Braces,” and critics are already sounding the alarm.
Fredy Reihl, editor at AmmoLand News, calls the 15-page document “a thinly veiled blueprint for the largest firearm registration–and ultimately potentially confiscation– scheme in U.S. history.”
As explained by the ATF, “In recent years, some manufacturers have produced and sold devices designed to be attached to large and/or heavy pistols which are marketed to help a shooter “stabilize” his or her arm to support single-handed fire (“braces”). ATF was advised by the first manufacturer to submit an arm brace for classification that the intent of the arm brace was to facilitate one-handed firing of the AR15 pistol for those with limited strength or mobility due to a handicap, and to reduce bruising to the forearm when firing with one hand. According to this manufacturer, the brace concept was inspired by the needs of disabled combat veterans who still enjoy recreational shooting but could not reliably control heavy pistols without assistance. Consequently, ATF agrees that there are legitimate uses for certain “stabilizing braces.”
The document goes on to state, “ATF’s longstanding and publicly known position is that a firearm does not evade classification under the NFA merely because the firearm is configured with a device marketed as a “stabilizing brace” or “arm brace.” When an accessory and a weapon’s objective design features, taken together, are not consistent with use of the accessory as an arm brace, that is, not to stabilize a handgun when being operated with one hand, such weapon, configured with the accessory may fall within the scope of the NFA, particularly where the accessory functions as a shoulder stock for the weapon. Accordingly, ATF must evaluate whether a particular firearm configured with a stabilizing brace bears the objective features of a firearm designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder, and thus subject to the NFA, on a case-by-case basis.”
At issue is the alleged practice by at least some owners of AR-type pistols to use the arm braces as stocks.
The National Rifle Association issued a statement.
“By completely changing course on earlier decisions,” NRA said, “BATFE has signaled that it is ready and eager to collaborate with Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and other gun control extremists to infringe on our Second Amendment rights. The NRA will fight these aggressive anti-gun actions on pistol stabilizing braces and Polymer80. Gun owners know elections have consequences. This is why we must all fight to protect the pro-gun Senate majority in the run-off races in Georgia.”
Acting ATF Director Regina Lombardo is perceived as no friend to gun owners. It appears ATF officials are already meeting with President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris—both perennial gun control advocates—in anticipation of a dramatic change in the direction of firearms regulation once the new administration is sworn in.
According to the ATF document, “You may submit comments, identified by docket number ATF 2020R10, by any of the following methods—
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
- Mail: Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Ave. NE, Mail Stop 6N518, Washington DC 20226; ATTN: ATF 2020R-10.
- Fax: (202) 648-9741.
“Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number (ATF 2020R-10). All properly completed comments received will be posted without change to the Federal eRulemaking portal, www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the “Public Participation” heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.”
The announcement raised red flags across the country, as word is beginning to spread about the proposal. Several manufacturers have introduced AR15-type pistols and arm braces, and there is a cottage industry of sorts producing aftermarket braces.