ATF Posts “Final” Rule on Stabilizing Braces – On January 13, 2023, the Attorney General signed ATF final rule 2021R-08F, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,’” amending ATF’s regulations to clarify when a rifle is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder. The new rule outlines the factors that the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) would consider when evaluating firearms equipped with a purported “stabilizing brace” (or other rearward attachment) to determine whether these weapons would be considered a “rifle” or “short-barreled rifle” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, or a “rifle” or “firearm” subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act.
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.
It is important to note that this rule does not affect “stabilizing braces” that are objectively designed and intended as a “stabilizing brace” for use by individuals with disabilities, and not for shouldering the weapon as a rifle. Such stabilizing braces are designed to conform to the arm and not as a buttstock. However, if the firearm with the “stabilizing brace” is a short-barreled rifle, it needs to be registered within 120-days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
ATF Posts “Final” Rule on Stabilizing Braces
This rule is effective the date it is published in the Federal Register. Any weapons with “stabilizing braces” or similar attachments that constitute rifles under the NFA must be registered no later than 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register; or the short barrel removed and a 16-inch or longer rifle barrel attached to the firearm; or permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” such that it cannot be reattached; or the firearm is turned in to your local ATF office. Or the firearm is destroyed.
With this new rule, the Biden administration claims that the brace creates a likeness to short-barreled rifles, which require a federal license under the National Firearms Act. This has led to backlash from some lawmakers, with U.S. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho releasing the following statement slamming the rule:
“President Biden’s administration once again took aim at the rights of Idaho’s law-abiding gun owners. The administration’s rule requiring pistol braces be registered with the federal government threatens to turn responsible gun owners into felons overnight. This is unacceptable. I will always defend Idahoans’ Second Amendment rights and will forcefully oppose President Biden’s radical anti-gun agenda.”
It is worth mentioning that during the 117th Congress, Senator Risch was a cosponsor of the Pistol Brace Protection Act to ensure law-abiding gun owners will not have to register or remove their pistol brace, and the Stop Harassing Owners of Rifles Today (SHORT) Act to remove taxation, registration, and regulation requirements for short-barreled rifles and shotguns under the National Firearms Act.
So, with the new ATF final rule on pistol brace attachments, owners of firearms equipped with stabilizing braces will now have to register or remove the brace within 120-days. The new rule aims to clarify when a rifle is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder, and to determine whether these weapons would be considered a “rifle” or “short-barreled rifle” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, or a “rifle” or “firearm” subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act. It is important to note that this rule does not affect stabilizing braces that are objectively designed and intended as a “stabilizing brace” for use by individuals with disabilities. However, it has led to backlash from some lawmakers, who argue that it threatens the rights of law-abiding gun owners and that they will forcefully oppose President Biden’s anti-gun agenda.
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