Earlier this month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) finalized its rule regarding pistols with stabilizing braces. If you have a stabilizing brace for a pistol, or your pistol has a stabilizing brace on it and allows you to fire the pistol from the shoulder, then it is considered a small barreled rifle and thus under the regulation of the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act. This means these guns need to be registered under federal law, and a tax is paid for each firearm. For now, the ATF is giving current gun owners a 120-day period that started on January 13th to register their stabilizing brace tax-free.
The ATF states, “the rule’s amended definition of “rifle” clarifies that the term “designed, redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder” includes a weapon that is equipped with an accessory, component, or other rearward attachment (e.g., a “stabilizing brace”) that provides surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder, provided other factors, as listed in the definition, indicate the weapon is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder.”
The ATF makes clear that stabilizing braces that are attached to the arm for disabled veterans or disabled people, who own a pistol, are exempted from the rule.
After 120 day period, gun owners would have to pay a $200 tax per firearm when registering. If gun owner does not register their stabilizing brace and pay the tax, then they are at risk of a $10,000 penalty and/or 10 years of jail time.
“Other options include removing the stabilizing brace to return the firearm to a pistol or surrendering covered short-barreled rifles to ATF. Nothing in this rule bans stabilizing braces or the use of stabilizing braces on pistols,” wrote the Justice Department.
This new rule sparked outrage among gun organizations and Republican politicians arguing that the rule automatically criminalizes millions of Americans. A letter signed by over 40 Republican senators condemns the new rule as another attempt at greater firearm regulation. “The way the proposed rule is written makes clear that ATF intends to bring the most common uses of the most widely possessed stabilizing braces within the purview of the NF A. Doing so would turn millions of law-abiding Americans into criminals overnight, and would constitute the largest executive branch-imposed gun registration and confiscation scheme in American history.”