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Time To Act: ATF To Classify Braced Firearms as NFA Items

Often times the threat of encroaching gun control, for most Americans, feels like something far outside of their control. As politicians attack human rights with the stroke of a pen, and bureaucrats build institutions and write policy without recourse for this it effects, it's easy to give into pessimism and become disenfranchised by the government supposedly built on the maxim that they are beholden to the will of the governed.

At this moment, however, that is not the case. Each and every one of us, as individual citizens, have the opportunity to fight back, with deliberate action. Here is how you, specifically, can act against increasing government overreach. 

It didn't start with Q LLC, and it's not going to end in darkness. Whispers between friends, and shouts of protest have alarmed hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans of what is being proposed by the ATF. Incase we were waiting for more definite evidence, the DOJ has officially published this document titled Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces” on December 18th, 2020.  In summary: The ATF is attempting to specifically classify firearms with Pistol Stabilizing Braces as possibly being regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) and Gun Control Act (GCA). While it is not stated openly what that would mean, it is reasonable to understand this as a form of re-defining braced pistols as either a Short Barrel Rifle (SBR) or Any Other Weapon (AOW) both of which are heavily scrutinized, accrue additional costs on behalf of the buyer, and most pressing, include registration as part of purchasing. The method of evaluating a firearm as whether or not they fall under the NFA or GCA, as stated in the document, is by “objective design features.” These include caliber, weight and length, length of pull, attachment method, aim point, secondary grip, sights and scope, and the opaque category of peripheral accessories. The document is straight forward about also saying that the way a firearm is marketed will also influence a decision. The result of classifying Braced Pistols as NFA items will be a registry. The direct quote:

“Consequently, 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. This separate 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. ” – Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces”, by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives, Page 11:

So, if this goes into effect, destroy your property, or comply. If you're looking for a back-door firearms registry. Here you have it, in the buff.  

There are no consequences for action

There will be consequences for inaction.

  The letter includes an opportunity for people to contact them, digitally or on paper. This is where Americans have the advantage. The ATF is accepting comments, and is bound by law to respond. Let us make this clear. If follow the guidelines and submit a comment on the proposed classification, the ATF must take the time to respond. That means this is our chance to make it clear that the reclassification of Braced Pistols as NFA items is not only moving in the wrong direction, but that a firearms registration is unacceptable. Millions of Americans have Pistols with Stabilizing Braces, and if they are not aware of this, now's the time to put away any uncertainty and get them involved. Sharing this article is what it takes to win the first skirmish.  Time is short, and the gate will not be open for long. If each owner of a brace, or someone considering purchasing a braced pistol volunteers to contact the ATF in the method directed, this can be stopped, if not by our voices, than by the very weakness of the ATF: bureaucracy. The gears of gun control can by halted by the actions of the many, and the wrench thrown into the system is your voice.  The three ways you can submit your comments are directed as follows:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: ATF recommends that you submit your comments to ATF via the Federal eRulemaking portal at 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:

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.

  • 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.

It is advised that you read the original document published by the ATF before submitting your comments, so that it will be maximally effective.

The Brace Debacle Saga

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24 responses to “Time To Act: ATF To Classify Braced Firearms as NFA Items”

  1. Jeremy Young says:

    Can’t change the rules after the fact we already own them and agency’s don’t make law.

  2. Okki says:

    Document Type: Notice
    Title: Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces”
    Document ID: ATF-2020-0001-0001

  3. Vaughn Johnson says:

    If the carrot is to register my already legally owned pistol as an NFA item, I might as well dump the brace and put a rifle stock on it once it is “registered” … right? I mean, it is then an NFA item, right? Or is someone going to crap out NFA-lite to cover braced pistols? Assholes.

  4. Bob says:

    This is BS because if you do send in a response they have your name and address on file since it’s part of the requirement for sending in your comment!

    • Kevin says:

      You are spot on Bob.

    • Cody says:

      This comment is exactly correct. The only way I make a comment will be on their website. Under no circumstances will I give any contact info. Otherwise, you may as well hand it over, pay up or lie about possession.

    • Brett says:

      Incorrect. There is the option of leaving your comment anonymously. However, I will not be commenting anonymously; I believe my opinion has value and merit and I am willing to stand behind it with my own name unlike the nameless, faceless government agents tasked with enforcing this BS. If they would retaliate against me for my thoughts and opinions…. I dare them to try.

    • Adam1776 says:

      Not true you can just give a name. I already did it.

    • Mark H says:

      Right on. MY thoughts exactly. The proverbial “damned if you DO, damned if you DON’T” scheme. There are apparently very few OTHER options though. The way I see it it’s do OR THIS the “hill we choose to die on”? This once great country of ours, being ruined as we speak by overzealous idiots, won’t be anything close to recognizable if we don’t ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING about it. I feel the 2A’s definately my line in the sand. MOLON LABE…

  5. Archangel says:

    Orwellian Newspeak – Supposedly “objective” factors go undefined and/or VERY subjective

    Caliber? I can buy a .50 caliber Desert Eagle handgun – why is caliber an issue?

    Weight (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)? REALLY, people use two hands all the time to fire handguns – and you can shoot a 16″ AR-15 with one hand – so again, this goes undefined and subjective

    Length of Pull? This should be simple – but they don’t bother to specify a maximum length of pull – so again, completely subjective

    Laws/regulations that are not fully defined are prima facie INVALID – if every one of MILLIONS of freaking gun have to be submitted for subjective review by ATF, then this fails to be legal

  6. David Martini says:

    The ATF needs to be abolished…just a tool of leftists…

  7. Gene Ralno says:

    Always demand a warrant. Any errant property should be secreted at another address. Demand serial numbers or photos of what they’re after. Hire an attorney and contest everything. Never answer questions beyond your name. Assert your 5th Amendment human right. Treat the democrat party as the nation’s enemy. Their goal is to disarm everyone except the government. If sufficient numbers resist, these things could trigger a revolt.

  8. Michael Zimmerman says:

    My comments in case it helps anyone else considering commenting:
    The timing of this notice, coming the Friday before Christmas and allowing comments only for a 14 day period which includes Christmas and New Years holidays, and during which Congress is not in session, at minimum gives the appearance of intending to limit feedback or response to the notice. Pistols with stabilizing braces have been around for almost a decade so the is no apparent justification for urgency in pushing this notice out at the time chosen by the ATF. Presented in such a fashion, the notice gives the appearance of an agency trying to push an agenda.

    The “objective factors” listed in the notice do not provide adequate guidance to allow an individual, a law enforcement officer, a court, or a manufacturer to ascertain if a pistol equipped with a brace would be classified as a short barreled rifle or any other weapon and subsequently be subject to NFA requirements. The implication of the notice is that each weapon as configured would need to be considered individually to assess whether or not it were subject to NFA requirements. However, there is no indication in the notice that ATF intends or is capable of conducting such an individual review of every weapon equipped with a brace. Even if such a review were feasible, the notice makes it appear that the weapon would need to be rereviewed each time an accessory is changed. Given the long lead times for other NFA approvals, it seems unlikely that ATF has the resources or means to conduct such reviews or that it would be a wise use of ATF resources.

    Many of the individual objective factors selected by ATF are themselves questionable considerations for defining an NFA item. For example, caliber of weapon, adding aiming devices, and ability to operate the weapon with one hand were all included as factors in the notice. There are numerous models of high caliber bolt action, rolling block and revolver pistols available for many years and that remain unquestioned in the domain of pistols. These weapons tend to be heavy and users of them frequently equip them with optics to improve accuracy at longer ranges for hunting, target and other sporting purposes. Most pistol shooters, including law enforcement, choose to fire their weapons with two hands to improve accuracy and recoil control so there is no reason to believe shooters with a brace equipped weapon should not likewise use their offhand for better control. Additionally ATF has previously indicated that using a pistol brace as a cheek rest does not constitute reconfiguring the weapon to a short barreled rifle so the current notice’s focus on using the pistol brace with only one hand appears counter to the ATF’s prior statements.

    The notice appears to offer a reasonable remedy to current owners of brace equipped pistol by allowing them a process to obtain NFA approval without cost. However, such a remedy will negatively affect gun owners in important ways. First, short barreled rifles and any other weapons are not legal in all states and owners in such states would become disposed of their firearms in some manner. Second many owners of pistols with stabilizing braces bought them as a personal defense weapon. Reclassifying the weapons as short barreled rifles would prohibit them from carrying the weapon in a functional condition (loaded) in a vehicle in many states. This would greatly diminish the utility of the weapon as a personal defense choice in many situations.

    The ATF notification also gives owners of stabilizer equipped firearms the option of removing the brace and destroying it to remain in compliance and not subject to NFA provisions. If the brace is not an NFA item, and the ATF recognizes braces a legitimate in some applications, why would the owner need to destroy the brace? If the assertion were made by the ATF that the firearm could be quickly converted back by adding the brace, then the same assertion could be made regarding a stock so anyone who owns both a stock and a pistol capable of accepting the stock is subject to NFA. With the interchangeability of parts between AR platform rifles and pistols, this would be an unreasonable assertion.

    Given that the notice does not provide manufacturers and firearm owners with clear useable guidance on what is and isn’t a stabilizer equipped NFA weapon, or provide a clear path for obtaining a “case by case” determination, the notice does not appear to clarify issues related to pistol braces and instead adds further confusion. Given these short comings in the notification, the notification appears mainly intended to pressure lawful existing owners of stabilizer equipped pistols into self declaring their weapons as subject to NFA provisions so as to take advantage of the free tax stamp. This doesn’t sound consistent with “regulating certain weapons that are likely to be used for criminal purposes” to me. I believe laws and regulations should be clear, objective and fact based and I do not believe this notice meets that standard.

    • Mark H says:

      …just another ploy and scheme to “out” yourself IF you choose to either: Comment..they would then have YOUR name, etc (NOT that it’s ‘evidence’ of any wrong-doing per se) and opt for the “Free” TAX gimmick. Now you’re well on your way to their Registry of NFA-restricted ‘tools’. Idiots and Traitors ALL of them…

    • Brian Cahill says:

      Gun owners are put in a losing position from the start. We are required to react to attacks from the left with lawsuits, which cost money and take time. The better plan is and has always been to have large organizations fight for gun rights through lobbying and political action. The NRA is being disassembled – that is more worrying than anything. The negative attitude towards the NRA by many gun owners is what will win. With no one at the wheel in Washington, carrying no war chest of funds to counter Bloomberg and his like, the fight is over. The discord amongst our own community is the jail in the coffin. The organization needs to change, but when it’s gone and all of the time and effort our hard earned money has gone to build that organization, build allies and have a voice… volunteer some time and get involved for God’s sake. There is only power in numbers.

  9. DS says:

    If braces become NFA items then remember that the president has the legal right to ban NFA items.

    • Stephen Nichols says:

      Where are you getting that information?
      The NFA was enacted by Congress. Signed into law. Unlike an executive order, passed by a President. Which can be undone.

  10. BuckyB says:

    Pretty certain that some of your editors probably think we don’t need something like these……… Still don’t read your magazine and never will again.

    • Brian Cahill says:

      Wow, can’t disagree more. Recoil is a pretty important and dedicated news and editorial organization. Dissent is fine, but put it in the right place. Unless that was just a troll. Ah! That’s it.

  11. Amanda Pulley says:

    This is an unfair and unjust act that far exceeds our rights as gun owners. It’s also a discriminatory act towards those whom the braces were first created for, disabled veterans, who served this country to defend our freedom. Including the freedom to own a gun and be able to protect ourselves.

  12. William Boyce says:

    Come on, it’s a 22lr. Body armor is a thick winter jacket. What am I going to do, hide this in a backpack and go after somebody. Be kind of foolish. My carry weapon, S&W Shield 2.0, is much more deadly.

    This is for plinking and saving money at the range.

    Baby steps. Ridiculous.

  13. Kynard Hylton says:

    Its unfair to come back and change the rule after you had set the standard on braces already

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