U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland signed ATF final rule 2021R-08F on Jan. 13, reclassifying millions of commonly owned pistols that have stabilizing braces. The ATF has branded these guns as illegal short-barreled rifles and shotguns, which puts them under the National Firearms Act of 1934. The rules are somewhat ambiguous, critics say.
The Biden Administration now requires gun owners to register these types of firearms with the federal government. The Congressional Research Service says that up to 40 million of them are currently in civilian ownership, and some say it’s unlikely all of them will be registered.
The rule changes the definition of “rifle” to include that which is “designed, redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.”
The rule does not affect “stabilizing braces” for disabled people, but does impact those devices that allow shouldering a pistol in the manner of a long gun for those who are not disabled. If a firearm with the stabilizing brace is a short-barreled rifle in the government’s view, it needs to be registered within 120-days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
“Any weapons with ‘stabilizing braces’ or similar attachments that constitute rifles under the NFA must be registered no later than 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register; or the short barrel removed and a 16-inch or longer rifle barrel attached to the firearm; or permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the ‘stabilizing brace’ such that it cannot be reattached; or the firearm is turned in to your local ATF office. Or the firearm is destroyed,” ATF said.
The ATF has published a list of 40 different brands and models that are now illegal, which you can see at this link.
The ATF said owners of these guns have these options:
- Submit through the eForms system an Application to Make and Register a Firearm, ATF Form 1 (E- Form 1) within 120-days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
- Permanently remove or alter the “stabilizing brace” so that it cannot be reattached and thereby removing it from regulation as a “firearm” under the NFA.
- Remove the short barrel and attach a 16-inch or longer rifled barrel to the firearm thus removing it from the provisions of the NFA.
- Turn the firearm into your local ATF office.
- Destroy the firearm.
Gun Owners of America’s Senior Vice President Erich Pratt said, “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.”
The Congressional Review Act may be used by Republicans to block the ATF rule, but with a Senate controlled by Democrats, the rule will probably end up in court when an American gun owner refuses to register his or her pistol brace and is arrested for owning it.
“The ATF is not a legislative body. Pistol braces have been used for many years… with ATF consent. Now ATF is trying to regulate them like machine guns. By what authority? Democrats controlled all 3 branches and passed no ban. This is not Constitutional,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, Republican from Kentucky.
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado said, “Our Second Amendment is under attack by Joe Biden’s ATF. I’m not the only one who wants to see this agency defunded. We won’t be giving up our firearms to the government anytime soon.”
Republican Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois said, “The unelected bureaucrats at ATF do not have the Constitutional authority to ban guns and violate the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. I will sponsor legislation to BLOCK Biden’s ‘Pistol Brace’ gun ban and DEFUND Biden’s tyrannical ATF!”
Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said, “Pistol braces and short barreled rifles aren’t the problem. Mass murderers don’t care about ATF unconstitutional rules. Murderers kill people anyways and will use any means possible to kill. Punishing legal gun owners and gun bans hurt Americans ability to defend themselves.”
Alaska Democrat Rep. Mary Peltola, who during her campaign tried to position herself as a Second Amendment supporter, issued no statement about the federal agency’s overreach of its authority. Sen. Dan Sullivan was overseas, and there was no statement from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has advocated for some controls on firearms.
In 2018, the Trump administration’s banned bump stocks, devices that allow rapidly fire multiple rounds from semi-automatics. This month, a federal appeals court reversed the bump stock ban, which had classified bump stocks as machine gun. The court ruling says, “A plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of ‘machine gun’ set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act.”