ATF’s new pistol brace rule will ban millions of firearms

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News January 15, 2023

The ATF announced on Friday it is reclassifying pistol braces, a popular firearm accessory.

The rule, which Team Biden requested as part of its gun control efforts, would effectively ban the use of pistol braces unless they are registered with the ATF.

Anyone who does not comply with the rule could be subject to upwards of ten years in federal prison. The agency had previously ruled the braces were legal multiple times over the past decade.

“While firearms equipped with ‘stabilizing braces’ or other rearward attachments may be submitted to ATF for a new classification determination, a majority of the existing firearms equipped with a ‘stabilizing brace’ are likely to be classified as ‘rifles’ because they are configured for shoulder fire based on the factors described in this rule,” the ATF said.

“Because many of these firearms generally have a barrel of less than 16 inches, they are likely to be classified as short-barreled rifles subject to regulation and registration under the [National Firearms Act (NFA)] and [Gun Control Act].”

Pistol braces have exploded in popularity since 2012, when the ATF had first determined the braces did not convert pistols into heavily-regulated short-barrel rifles.

The ATF estimates three to seven million of the devices exist. The Congressional Research Service puts the number much higher at somewhere between 10 and 40 million.

“Under the new rule, millions of Americans face the threat of federal felony charges over guns they purchased legally,” Stephen Gutowski noted in a Jan. 13 report for The Reload.

Attorney General Merrick Garland insists that the rule change is necessary to prevent crimes committed with guns he believes should be subject to NFA regulations.

“Keeping our communities safe from gun violence is among the Department’s highest priorities,” Garland said in a statement. “Almost a century ago, Congress determined that short-barreled rifles must be subject to heightened requirements. Today’s rule makes clear that firearm manufacturers, dealers, and individuals cannot evade these important public safety protections simply by adding accessories to pistols that transform them into short-barreled rifles.”

The NFA requires Americans to register all rifles that have barrels shorter than 16 inches and pay a tax of $200, a process that can take nearly a year, or face federal felony charges. However, the law defines “rifles” as guns that are “designed and intended” to be shouldered. The ATF initially determined firearms equipped with pistol braces, which are designed to be strapped to a shooter’s forearm instead of pressed against their shoulder, are not rifles and, therefore, not subject to NFA regulations.

Erich Pratt, Gun Owners of America senior vice president, said in a statement: “This administration continues to find new ways to attack gun owners, and this time their target is brace-equipped firearms that allow persons with disabilities to safely and effectively use pistols. We will continue to work with our industry partners to amplify the disapproving voices in the firearms industry, and the Gun Owners Foundation, our sister legal arm, will be filing suit in the near future.”

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