US Attorney General Merrick Garland signed the controversial ATF stabilizing braces ruling last June 2021.
Here's a breakdown of everything you need to know about this ruling and everything wrong with it.
ATF Stabilizing Braces | Controversial ATF Pistol Brace Ruling Explained
What are Stabilizing Braces?
Stabilizing braces, sometimes called pistol braces, are accessories that attach to a pistol’s rear end and rests on the shooter’s forearm. This allows the shooter to operate a pistol with one hand.
These braces were initially created to help disabled veterans shoot their pistols in a safe and accurate manner, but any shooter can also use stabilizing braces to improve accuracy and stability when shooting with a pistol.
What is the ATF Stabilizing Braces Ruling and How Does it Affect You?
The ATF Proposed Rule 2021R-08, or “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,’ amends the definition to what defines a “rifle” to include any weapon fitted with an accessory that allows someone to shoot from the shoulder.
In other words, pistols equipped with stabilizing braces will be classified as rifles and will be treated as such in the eyes of the US government. This means:
- Your firearm will be regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) and you will need to have a permit to own one in a lot of states.
- You will need to pay additional documentary stamp taxes on your firearm.
- If you are caught possessing a pistol with a brace equipped, and you haven’t done numbers 1 and 2, you can be charged with a felony.
- The firearm can be classified as an assault weapon, which is banned in some states.
Firearms regulated under the NFA have a more stringent set of rules attached to them compared to other firearms. In this ruling, pistols in a pistol brace are considered short-barreled rifles, which requires a permit from the US Attorney General before transporting your gun across states.
This proposed ATF ruling attempted to bring a much clearer set of rules and standards to the current regulation on stabilizing braces, which is a step in the right direction from the ATF’s current practice on regulating them. However, the ATF has done so through a blanket ban on any firearm with stabilizing braces installed than establishing a set of rules to abide by.
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What’s Wrong with the ATF Stabilizing Braces Ruling?
There are multiple things wrong with the ATF’s proposed ruling:
- Unclear and vague definitions: Apart from placing firearms with pistol braces under the NFA, the ruling doesn’t specify the situations when to use these criteria. It has no clear definition of what a “stabilizing brace” is, and the ruling applies to all firearms designed to shoulder firing.
- The ATF has tried (and failed) at this kind of regulation: The ATF has attempted this kind of blanket ban before on firearm silencers, only for the District of Columbia District Court to overturn the ruling for being too vague.
- Arbitrary factoring criteria: The ATF uses a point system to classify which firearms apply under the NFA. Unfortunately, the criteria the ATF has laid out on what makes a firearm a rifle are extremely arbitrary and contradictory as firearms of the same type can be classified in different ways depending on various factors like firearm length, size, and weight.
The ruling’s overarching definition puts multiple gun-wielding Americans in violation of federal law. It fails to address the core issues in regulating stabilizing braces and instead chooses to ban them entirely.
Such provisions will lead to an underground market for stabilizing braces. This makes shooting much more unsafe for many people relying on them and regulation much harder.
Many portions of the ATF stabilizing braces ruling not only make it much harder for gun owners, sellers, and manufacturers to deal with pistol braces but also toe the line with several laws, including the Constitution.
Instead of outright banning stabilizing braces, the ATF should come up with a set of standards that truly regulate them.
What do you think of the proposed ATF stabilizing braces ruling? Let us know in the comments below!
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