As many as 7 million stabilizing pistol brace owners may have skin in the game on a proposed rulemaking process that opened for public comment on Thursday. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives published its proposed "Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached 'Stabilizing Braces'" in the Federal Register, the modern version of the U.S. government's courthouse bulletin board, on June 10. The rule will be open for comment for the next 90 days, ending on Sept. 8, 2021. 

The move comes as part of a larger anti-gun push coming out of Washington from the White House on down. Its officially announced purpose is to better define the legal use of stabilizing braces, of which as many as 7 million are thought to be in circulation, and at what point the accessory's installation on a large format pistol transforms the construction into an NFA-controlled short-barreled rifle. 

This rule proposes a somewhat hard-to-follow points system, where, if the gun scores more than four points in either of two separate sections, it would be automatically considered an SBR. 

As there is no grandfathering allowed under the rule – even for guns lawfully purchased with braces pre-installed by the manufacturer – owners of such newly-defined SBRs would have to either turn the braced pistol over to Uncle Sam, permanently remove or alter the brace so that it cannot be reattached, remove the short barrel from the firearm and install one at least 16-inches in length, destroy the firearm, or submit a Form 1 and $200 to convert it to a legal, registered, SBR.

Pro-gun groups hold that the move by the ATF and the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice Department crosses the line and, rather than trying to work towards a simple definition, is meant to sour the market on the devices altogether. Worse, they point out that gun owners could easily be placed in legal jeopardy. 

"The factors are written in such a way that simple, everyday changes in a firearm, including simply removing a sight or changing the magazine, can add points to the total," says the Firearms Policy Coalition as part of their Save the Braces campaign. "Rather than clarifying the law, the ATF’s attempt at administrative lawmaking seeks to make owning braced firearms a felonious minefield."

The FPC's Matt Larosiere explains the ins and outs of the proposed rule below:



To submit a comment to ATF, FPC recommends the following: 

REMEMBER: The more unique comments and different arguments the ATF receives, the more they will have to read and respond to (this is good)!

Read all instructions on the docket carefully, ATF is looking for reasons to exclude your comments. FPC will post requirements when they are made public. All submissions received should include the agency name and docket number (ATF 2021R-08) for this notice of proposed rulemaking. Requirements can be viewed in section VII. Public Participation.

According to the ATF: "All comments should reference this document's docket number ATF 2021R-08, be legible, and include the commenter's complete first and last name and full mailing address. ATF may not consider, or respond to, comments that do not meet these requirements or comments containing excessive profanity."

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