ATF Withdraws Pistol Brace Guidance

It’s a Christmas miracle!

Well, perhaps not that extreme a description, but it is welcome news that the efforts of the gun owning community are producing positive momentum towards rational definitions and regulations.

Just 5 days into a 14 day commentary period the Department of Justice withdrew the notice for commentary that the ATF submitted via for public input. The input was so overwhelmingly critical, and had garnered nearly 42,000 unique comments, that ATF pulled the plug early.

It is believed that they got the message. The vague and nebulous “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with ‘Stabilizing Braces’,” were entirely unsatisfactory and not in keeping with the stated goal of making the definitions simple to understand and comply with as either a Title I or Title II firearm, owners choice of which to pursue.

It’s not that we’re against rules. We aren’t. We like rules that make sense. The four rules of firearms safety and their logical application make sense. Rules for reloading ammunition and marketing ammunition as a certain caliber make sense. Rules for marketing a firearm as a certain caliber and that firearm operating safely make sense. We have dozens of common sense rules that actually fit the definition, but this garbled mess wasn’t one of them in the least.

DoJ and the Office of the Attorney General agree, they got put on notice. Everything is not well in ATF regulation land and if there is something that the DoJ really wants to avoid right now, it is a public so disquiet and irate that they make waves.

So what next?

We wait and see what the DoJ come out with next. This is not over, not by a long shot and certainly not with a Biden administration taking the helm. But they know, they have definitive proof, that gun control stokes fires that many other issues do not. Resisting gun control is a far more bi-partisan and grass roots movement than it has ever previously been. More Americans than ever have realized that at the end of the day, when all the civil systems and programs in the world have failed you, sometimes all that is left to save your life is you… and you gun.

So, now more than ever, any actions meant to limit that access, to limit that civil right that protects people with action as well as word, is going to be met with open hostility, angry voices, and extreme suspicion.

If you commented. If you spoke up concisely and put digital ink to the ATF’s notice board, thank you. It worked. The job isn’t done but this is a step towards making the government recognize the folly of overly complicated and meaningless regulation that wastes everyone’s time.

Ultimately the owners don’t care what the ATF calls a braced firearm. ‘SBR/SBS’ or ‘Pistol’ or ‘Firearm’ or ‘PDW’ or Belgian Waffle, they don’t care as long as access to them isn’t a pain in the ass. The braced firearm called into question everything about the NFA short of automatics and explosives. It turned on a bright light to a confusing legal conundrum and when ATF attempted to further obfuscate it by ‘clarifying objectively’ a topic they had flipped, flopped, and flipped again, the public called them to account.

I know it became popular to say, “Stop asking!” about the legal niches that have opened thanks to tech developments like braces and binary triggers, but these fights have been coming. Better to have them when the public is hopping mad at anything that looks the least bit suspect instead of when everyone is used to saying nothing to try and avoid notice.

We win round one. We came out swinging. But this isn’t done until we have a solid rules gain and clarification in our favor that actually makes a lick of sense. Explaining gun laws to people shouldn’t make their eyes roll from their sockets in sheer astonishment at the absurdity, they should be as sensible to explain as a speed limit.

Let’s gain some ground on repealing the NFA, we’ve taken a solid step. But it is just the first.

Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.