ATF and DOJ to Rule in on Pistol Braces…What to Expect?

As of 12/16/2020, a lot of things have come down the pipe when it comes to Pistol Braces/Stabilizers and the ATF/DOJ. What is going on? Well it appears that there is a 16 page rough draft copy of proposed rulemaking specifying “Objective Factors for Classifying Stabilizing Braces” according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The ATF has proposed when evaluating firearms with an attached stabilizing brace to determine whether they are considered firearms under the National Firearms Act (NFA) and/or the Gun Control Act (GCA). The Department of Justice (DOJ) is planning to “subsequently implement a separate process for current possessors of stabilizer-equipped firearms to choose to register such firearms in compliance with the NFA.”

Although, this is just a rough draft, it appears that this may be published within the next few weeks in the Federal Register. After the publication date in the Federal Register, we will have 14 days to write comments and respond to this atrocious violation of our rights and to let them know we won’t stand for this. There are many gun rights groups that are on top of this situation, to include the Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICP). The FICP is really fighting for our Second Amendment rights as hard as they can. If you are unfamiliar with them, please look at their cause by clicking here.


So what is the ATF looking at when it comes to “stabilizing braces” and what are they deeming as NFA items?

The objective design features ATF considers in determining whether a weapon with an attached “stabilizing brace” has been “designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder” include, but are not limited to:

  • Type and Caliber. The type and caliber of firearm to which the stabilizing brace or similar item is installed. A large caliber firearm that is impractical to fire with one hand because of recoil or other factors, even with an arm brace, is likely to be considered a rifle or shotgun.
  • Weight and Length. The weight and length of the firearm used with the stabilizing brace. A firearm that is so heavy that it is impractical to fire or aim with one hand, or so long that it is difficult to balance the firearm to fire with one hand, is likely to be considered a rifle or shotgun.
  • Length of Pull. The “length of pull” refers to the distance from the trigger to the point at which a stock meets the shoulder. This is a measurement for rifles and shotguns used to accommodate shooters of different sizes. Because an arm brace need only reach the forearm, the distance between the trigger and the back of the brace is generally expected to be shorter than the distance between the trigger and the back of a stock on a weapon designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder. This measurement is not necessarily determinative of the intent of the manufacturer but is used in making an evaluation of the firearm. If a brace is of a length that makes it impractical to attach to the shooter’s wrist or forearm, then that may demonstrate that it is not designed as brace but rather for shoulder fire.
  • Attachment Method. The method of attachment of the stabilizing brace, to include modified stock attachments, extended receiver extensions, and the use of spacers. These items extend the distance between the trigger and the part of the weapon that contacts the shooter, whether it is a stock or stabilizing brace. Use of these items indicates that the weapon is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder because they extend a stabilizing brace beyond a point that is useful for something other than shoulder support.
  • Stabilizing Brace Design Features. The objective design features of the attached stabilizing brace itself are relevant to the classification of the assembled weapon, and include:
    • The comparative function of the attachment when utilized as a stabilizing brace compared to its alternate use as a shouldering device;
    • The design of the stabilizing brace compared to known shoulder stock designs;
    • The amount of rear contact surface area of the stabilizing brace that can be used in shouldering the weapon as compared to the surface area necessary for use as a stabilizing brace;
    • The material used to make the attachment that indicates whether the brace is designed and intended to be pressed against the shoulder for support, or actually used on the arm;
    • Any shared or interchangeable parts with known shoulder stocks; and
    • Any other feature of the brace that improves the weapon’s effectiveness from the shoulder-firing position without providing a corresponding benefit to the effectiveness of the stability and support provided by the brace’s use on the arm.
  • Aim Point. Appropriate aim point when utilizing the attachment as a stabilizing brace. If the aim point when using the arm brace attachment results in an upward or downward trajectory that could not accurately hit a target, this may indicate the attachment was not designed as a stabilizing brace.
  • Secondary Grip. The presence of a secondary grip may indicate that the weapon is not a “pistol” because it is not designed to be held and fired by one hand.
  • Sights and Scopes. Incorporation of sights or scopes that possess eye relief incompatible with one-handed firing may indicate that the weapon is not a “pistol” because they are designed to be used from a shoulder-fire position and are incompatible for the single-handed shooting that arm braces are designed and intended.
  • Peripheral Accessories. Installation of peripheral accessories commonly found on rifles or shotguns that may indicate that the firearm is not designed and intended to be held and fired with one hand. This includes, but is not limited to, the installation of bipods/monopods that improve the accuracy of heavy weapons designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder; or the inclusion of a magazine or drum that accepts so many cartridges that it increases the overall weight of the firearm to a degree that it is impractical to fire the weapon with one hand even with the assistance of a stabilizing brace.

What will happen if this passes?

Following issuance of this notice, ATF and DOJ plan to implement a separate process by which current possessors of affected stabilizer-equipped firearms may choose to register such firearms to be compliant with the NFA. As part of that process, ATF plans to expedite processing of these applications, and ATF has been informed that the Attorney General plans retroactively to exempt such firearms from the collection of NFA taxes if they were made or acquired, prior to the publication of this notice, in good faith.

Another process may include the following options: registering the firearm in compliance with the NFA (described above), permanently removing the stabilizing brace from the firearm and disposing of it, replacing the barrel of the firearm (16” or greater for a rifle, or 18” or greater for a shotgun), surrendering the firearm to ATF, or destroying the firearm.

Until that process is separately implemented, and absent a substantial public safety concern, ATF will exercise its enforcement discretion not to enforce the registration provisions of the NFA against any person who, before publication of this notice, in good faith acquired, transferred, made, manufactured, or possessed an affected stabilizer-equipped firearms.

The document is not an administrative determination that any particular weapon equipped with a stabilizing arm brace is a “firearm” under the NFA. To the extent that the ATF Director subsequently issues such a determination, the ATF Director, at the direction of the Attorney General, plans retroactively to exempt such firearms from the collection of NFA taxes, provided those firearms were made or acquired in good faith prior to the publication of this notice. See 26 U.S.C. § 7805. The contents of the document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. The document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or Department policies. This guidance does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law and is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any matter civil or criminal.


To submit your comments please follow the rules below:

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.

Submitting Comments
Submit comments in any of three ways (but do not submit the same comment multiple times or by more than one method). Hand-delivered comments will not be accepted.

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: ATF recommends that you submit your comments to ATF via the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions. Comments will be posted within a few days of being submitted. However, if large volumes of comments are being processed simultaneously, your comment may not be viewable for up to several weeks. Please keep the comment
    tracking number that is provided after you have successfully uploaded your comment.
  • Mail: Send written comments to the address listed in ADDRESSES section of this document. Written comments must appear in minimum 12-point font size (.17 inches), include the commenter’s first and last name and full mailing address, be signed, and may be of any length.
  • Facsimile: Submit comments by facsimile transmission to (202) 648-9741. Faxed
    comments must:
    1. Be legible and appear in minimum 12-point font size (.17 inches);
    2. Be 8 ½” x 11” paper;
    3. Be signed and contain the commenter’s complete first and last name and full mailing address; and
    4. Be no more than five pages long

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, 99 New York Ave. NE, Mail Stop 6N-518, Washington DC 20226; telephone: (202) 648-7070 (this is not a toll-free number).


So what does this all mean?

It appears that the fear mongering is in full force, just like it was not too long ago when the Honey Badger Pistol was under attack and when SB Tactical received their letter from the ATF. We need to stay focused on the fight and let President Donald Trump know that we do not stand for this seizure of our rights and that he needs to abolish the ATF. The ATF is allowed to just free-lance and enforce any and all rules when it comes to firearms.

If this passes, we could be looking at mass orchestrated attack on our rights. It all started with the Bump Stock fiasco, that I believe is still in litigation thanks to Gun Owners of America and FICP. It will just continue on and on unless we change something. Again, the groundwork has been put into place and it appears that if this passes the only options are: register your Brace/Stabilizer, lengthen the barrel, destroy the brace, or destroy the pistol.

Our Second Amendment rights are under heavy attack and on the brink of extinction if a certain administration has their way. It has been shown that the Biden Administration is wanting to go after Pistol Braces/Stabilizers and 80% Lowers. As of last week, Polymer80 was raided by the ATF and there has been at least one instance that the “Alphabet Bois” made a knock on someone’s home and seized their 80% lower. This is just the tip of the iceberg folks.

Stay vigilant and stay up-to-date on this issue. Please follow FICP on their webpage, Facebook, or IG for further details and actions. Also, you can follow Gun Owners of America for other Second Amendment Lawsuits as well.

As always, ya’ll be good and be safe!

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