Pistol Braces and the ATF
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) recently published and began enforcing a new rule regarding pistol braces. The rule published January 31, 2023 has caused significant controversy, with many gun rights advocates expressing concern it will infringe on Second Amendment rights. In this article, we will explore the new legislation the ATF has announced regarding the use of pistol braces, its implications, and the reactions to the rule.
What are Pistol Braces?
Before we delve into a couple of the details of the almost 300 page rule, it's essential to understand what pistol braces are. A pistol brace is an accessory attached to the back of a pistol, providing support for the shooter's forearm allowing the shooter to stabilize the firearm and improve accuracy. Pistol braces were developed for people with disabilities or injuries, preventing them from firing a handgun with one hand. However, they quickly became popular among gun enthusiasts who found they improved their accuracy when shooting pistols.
What is the New Rule?
The new rule published by the ATF states any pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace is considered a "short-barreled rifle" (SBR) if it meets specific criteria. Under federal law, SBRs are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA), which requires a tax stamp and registration with the ATF. This is time-consuming and expensive, as each firearm's tax stamp costs $200 and can take a year to process. If the now SBR was possessed by an individual or a trust before January 31, 2023, the ATF will waive the $200 fee if the owner proceeds under the 120-day Amnesty Program.
To be considered an SBR under the new rule, a pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace must meet specific criteria:
• The pistol has an overall length of fewer than 26 inches.
• The pistol has a barrel length of fewer than 16 inches.
If a pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace meets either of these criteria, it is considered an SBR and will be subject to the regulations of the NFA. The owner must obtain a tax stamp and register the firearm with the ATF.
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Implications of the New Rule:
The new rule has significant implications for gun owners who use stabilizing braces. The ATF estimates there are between 3 and 7 million pistol braces, but the number is more likely between 10 and 40 million. Gun rights advocates argue the new rule infringes on Second Amendment rights and will make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms.
One main concern is the new rule is vague and open to interpretation. The ATF has not provided clear guidelines on what constitutes a "stabilizing brace" or how to measure overall length. This has led to confusion among gun owners and manufacturers, who are unsure whether their firearms will be considered SBRs under the new rule.
Another concern is the new rule will only add to the excessive backlog of applications currently pending review. Gun owners who want to keep their pistols with stabilizing braces will need to go through a lengthy and time-consuming process to comply with the regulations of the NFA. This could deter some gun owners from owning and using these firearms.
Reactions to the New Rule:
The new rule has generated significant controversy and drawn criticism from gun rights advocates, politicians, and manufacturers. Many believe the new rule is an attempt by the Biden administration to circumvent Congress and impose gun control measures without legislation.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, has issued a statement condemning the new rule. The NSSF argues the new rule will make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms and will have a chilling effect on the industry.
Ronnie Yeates is a Second Amendment advocate, Attorney, and licensed firearm manufacturer and dealer with a Type 07/02 FFL. If you are looking for an attorney with a unique understanding of the new interpretations or need help setting up a gun trust, contact Ronnie now: (832) 957-9077