Federal regulators on New Year's Eve officially withdrew proposed controversial guidance on stabilizing arm braces such as those commonly found on popular AR-15 pistols.
The quiet notice, posted to the Federal Register by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives on Dec. 31, 2020, officially announced the withdrawal of the agency's “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with `Stabilizing Braces',” which was published in mid-December. That original 15-page guidance and request for comment drew almost 400,000 views and over 73,000 submitted comments inside a two-week period.
Most of the published comments reviewed by Guns.com were overwhelmingly against further regulation of the devices, which have been increasingly popular since 2012. Among those was one submitted by U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, who argued that short-barreled rifles should be legal without a tax stamp before questioning the motives of more rules on braces.
What is the need for such a rule? Are Americans with braced weapons committing crimes with these weapons? I have seen no such evidence. In fact, Americans who are adding stabilizing braces are making a conscious attempt to abide by the law - otherwise, they would forego the stabilizing brace and buy a standard buttstock which is usually cheaper and more comfortable. Furthermore, this appears to be designed to address the illogical fear of sporting carbines and similar weapons that "look scary," but according to the most recent data still account for less deaths per year than blunt objects, such as hammers or clubs, or "personal weapons," such as hands, fists, or feet.
Crenshaw was one of 90 lawmakers on Capitol Hill who wrote the ATF prior to the withdrawal of the notice, holding its proposed rule on stabilizing braces jeopardizes law-abiding gun owners across the country. The letter coincided with the agency signaling it would pull the unpopular guidance pending "further Department of Justice review."
SB Tactical, likely the most common brace maker, estimates that over 4 million of its products have been sold alone. That does not include braces made by competitors such as KAK Industries, Gear Head Works, and others.