A stabilizing pistol brace attached to an AR-15
A stabilizing pistol brace attached to an AR-15 / ATF

Analysis: ATF Wants to Register or Confiscate Millions of Pistol Braces, But Its Own Proposal Makes That Unrealistic [Member Exclusive]

The ATF proposed a sweeping new rule on Monday that would classify millions of guns equipped with stabilizing pistol braces as short-barrel rifles. It would require them to be registered to remain legal, but the agency is putting up roadblocks that make compliance less likely than it already was.

Recent efforts to register or confiscate guns or accessories have fallen flat. New York’s S.A.F.E. Act required registration of “assault weapons,” but only four percent of eligible guns were actually registered. New Jersey’s effort to confiscate any magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition failed to garner even a single magazine, according to documents obtained by Ammoland.

The ATF’s refusal to either grandfather currently-owned braces or waive the $200 fee associated with registering the guns makes their proposed registration or confiscation scheme much more likely to fail. Estimates vary wildly from 3 million to 40 million for how many braces are already out there. Even trying to round up or register the lower end of that spectrum is already little more than a fantasy, but trying to make owners do it and give the ATF $200 for the privilege makes it all the more farcical.

The agency outlined explanations in the proposal for why it decided not to allow Americans to either keep the braced firearms they already own or, at least, register them for free. They mostly boil down to concerns gun owners or retailers would break the law to abuse the system.

“In order to enforce the regulation, a complete grandfathering of existing firearms with an attached ‘stabilizing brace’ is problematic in that manufacturers could continue to produce these items that are actually ‘rifles’ under the statutory definition and subject to the NFA and market them as grandfathered firearms with an attached ‘stabilizing brace’ not subject to the same regulation,” the ATF said. “This could potentially pose an enforcement issue that may not be resolved for years if not decades.”

Waiving the tax for registration was rejected on a similar basis, with the ATF assuming gun owners would use the fee waiver to lie and register non-braced guns at no cost.

“This scenario was rejected because ‘stabilizing braces’ are not serialized, and an individual or entity could merely register all firearms possessed with the intent of later obtaining a ‘stabilizing brace,'” the agency said in the proposal. “Further, although the ‘brace’ is used on a particular weapon, an individual might register all pistols as SBRs and then attempt to utilize other stocks on these firearms.”

The ATF notes in its proposal that it doesn’t expect any guns to actually be turned in if the rule goes into effect. Instead, it seems agency officials are mostly counting on owners voluntarily removing and destroying their braces to accomplish the effort’s goal. That’s more realistic than trying to actually enforce the rule in any significant way. Still, it’s difficult to see a significant number of owners voluntarily destroying hundreds of dollars of their own property because the ATF would like them to do so.

Join For Sober Serious Firearms Reporting & Analysis

Sign up for journalism trusted by staff in Congress, at every major media outlet, and every major gun group in the country.

Free Weekly Newsletter

Get the most important gun news

Reloaders
$10/month
  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletters
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Commenting and Forum Access
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions
Buy Now
Reloaders
$100/year
  • Two Months Free
  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletter
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Commenting and Forum Access
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions
Buy Now
Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Share

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email
Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Comments From Reload Members

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
5 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John Cuyle
3 days ago

Specifically when looking at an AR pistol with a brace versus a registered SBR, it isn’t JUST the tax that’s a barrier.

Disadvantages to an AR pistol:
-Less functional than an SBR for anyone that isn’t actually disabled.

Disadvantages to an SBR:
-May be banned in states where AR pistols are legal.
-Cannot be taken across state lines without a permission slip from the ATF.
-Cannot be easily sold.
-Cannot be loaned.
-Other transfers become problematic as well (inheritance).
-Households where there are multiple users may require the weapon to be kept under some sort of trust for all members to have legal access, and trust will need to be maintained.
-Getting the less firearms enthusiastic trust members to get fingerprinted and go through the form 1 process can be a major barrier to getting it done. (It’s like pulling teeth to get my family members to digitally sign Silencer Shop forms).
-$200 tax stamp.

Even if the ATF were to waive the tax, there are significant reasons that a firearms owner may prefer to keep a weapon as a braced pistol despite the reduced utility.

Yet Another Endowment Member

Yeah I was wondering yesterday if this “made to fail” proposal is a distraction of effort and energy while something else happens. We’re not talking much about the details in the model red flag law, the redefining of a receiver, or anymore. But heck, I figured Chipman was set up as a made-to-fail distraction too. Maybe it’s just a strategy of throwing five absurd proposals at the wall and seeing if something sticks.
I’ve never really understood the function of the agency feedback period as an approval gate – I can’t imagine public feedback is legally binding. It’s not as if the ATF can’t still implement a regulatory change even if 60% of public feedback is negative, right? That kind of murky rule changing should make anyone nervous.

James Blessman
11 minutes ago

I think they’re hoping for removal of the braces instead, that confirms more with the administrations stated goals.

Question if an owner bought a pistol with a brace pre-installed is ATF going to accept the owner removing the brace for something else? Say just a pistol tube. The homemade pistols ATF knows nothing about but the FFL manufactured pistols, those they have data on.

Menu

Sorry, only paid members have access to the full story.

Join For Sober Serious Accurate Independent Firearms Reporting & Analysis

Reloaders
$10/month
  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletters
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Commenting and Forum Access
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions
Buy Now
Reloaders
$100/year
  • Two Months Free
  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletters
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Commenting and Forum Access
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions
Buy Now

Already a member? Click here to login.
Or go back to the home page.