ATF Targets Law-Abiding Pistol Brace Owners, Again

Gun Rights

On December 17th, ATF posted Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces for public inspection on the Federal Register. The “guidance” was officially published in the Federal Register on December 18th. ATF will be accepting public comments on this “guidance” until January 4, 2021.

ATF’s history of confusing and conflicting determinations on pistol braces has created a situation where law-abiding gun owners and manufacturers have no way to conform their behavior to the law.  ATF should provide insight and add objectivity to their murky process for evaluating pistol braces. This new “guidance” accomplishes neither of those goals.

The agency’s clear goal is to cement its existing “I’ll know it when I see it” approach when it comes to pistol braces. The “guidance” uses the word “objective” 24 times, but fails to articulate a single objective metric.

The notice does articulate some features that ATF may consider in evaluating pistol braces, but it goes on to note that “[t]hese factors are based on known stabilizing braces and similar attachments. No single factor or combination of factors is necessarily dispositive, and [ATF] examines each weapon holistically on a case-by-case basis.” Essentially, ATF reserves the right to exercise unlimited discretion in any future determinations.

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It should be noted that this new “guidance” does not directly affect the legality of any firearm. As the ATF explains, “[t]his document is not an administrative determination that any particular weapon equipped with a stabilizing arm brace is a ‘‘firearm’’ under the NFA.”

However, it does appear that ATF intends to apply the guidance in future determinations.

With this new “guidance,” ATF continues its pattern of making bureaucratic changes that put law-abiding Americans at risk of prosecution for a federal felony. These actions are completely incompatible with due process of law and our right to keep and bear arms.

Please check back to soon to see how you can help stop ATF’s most recent executive overreach. NRA will be submitting comments on this so-called “guidance” and will provide real guidance to interested parties to help them do the same.

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