After outcry from Second Amendment groups and members of Congress, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has rescinded recently released guidance reclassifying millions of pistol stabilizing braces. A reminder of the rule:
Explosives (ATF) could put millions of Americans in legal jeopardy.
The ATF published a notice Thursday that could require millions of AR-15 pistols and similar firearms—which are designed with braces that strap on to a shooter's forearm—to be either registered, turned in, destroyed, or dismantled. But the standards laid out for determining the devices' legality, such as caliber or weight, provide no objective measures, and the agency said it may also use undisclosed factors to judge the legality of the devices.
The agency conceded in the notice that some pistol braces are legal and should not be subject to the registration or destruction requirement. It said, however, that it could not provide a blanket determination for which pistols, or braces with which they're often equipped, are legal and said it would have to examine each gun "on a case-by-case basis." That means owners of the vast majority of the estimated three to four million AR-15 pistols and similar firearms may have to register with the ATF.
"Upon further consultation with the Department of Justice and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, ATF is withdrawing, pending further Department of Justice review, the notice and request for comments entitled “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with ‘Stabilizing Braces’,” that was published on December 18, 2020," ATF released in a statement Wednesday.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is praising the move and advocating for transparency and cooperation from the agency in the future.
"NSSF had been engaging with manufacturers, distributors, retailers, as well as policymakers to highlight concerns surrounding the proposed guidance. NSSF was working to illustrate the potential impact this guidance would have had on the firearm industry," NSSF released in a statement. "NSSF has long requested the ATF to publish objective criteria by which firearm manufacturers can readily produce firearms equipped with arm braces in compliance with the law. To date, the criteria is subjective and open to interpretation on a case-by-case basis. The guidance proposed by the ATF last week did little, unfortunately, to clear the ambiguity that exists with subjective criteria."
"NSSF is committed to working with the ATF, on behalf of firearm manufacturers, to establish objective criteria for stabilizing brace-equipped firearms. The firearm industry trade association will continue to monitor and provide updates on any further developments," it continued.
The National Rifle Association, which aggressively opposed the rule, is also weighing in.
JUST IN: The ATF withdrew its guidance on pistol stabilizing braces.— NRA (@NRA) December 24, 2020
Thank you to all @NRA members, gun owners, pro-2A members of Congress, @SenateMajLdr McConnell, @RepRichHudson, and all who helped strike down the @ATFHQ’s unsuccessful overreach.