Thursday, July 18, 2024
Firearm legislation and regulations

Breaking News: ATF’s Pistol Brace Rule Overturned – What This Means for Gun Owners

Breaking News: ATF’s Pistol Brace Rule Overturned – What This Means for Gun Owners

On September 29, 2022, a federal appeals court handed down a major victory for gun owners across the United States when it overturned the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) controversial “bang switch” ruling on pistol braces. This decision, which is being hailed as a significant win for Second Amendment rights, will have far-reaching implications for gun owners and the firearms industry.

Background on the Pistol Brace Rule

Before diving into the implications of this ruling, it’s essential to understand the background on the pistol brace rule. In December 2015, the ATF issued a letter (known as Open Letter 113028) that redefined pistol braces as “stabilizing brace[s],” rather than stocks. This classification meant that a firearm equipped with a pistol brace would now be subject to the National Firearms Act (NFA) as a short-barreled rifle (SBR) if it had a barrel length of less than 16 inches. The implications of this ruling were far-reaching, as many gun owners suddenly faced the possibility of having to pay thousands in taxes and registration fees, or even face potential criminal charges for possessing a firearm that was now considered an NFA item.

The Court’s Decision

On September 29, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision (link) in which it vacated and remanded the ATF’s 2015 pistol brace ruling. In its decision, the court found that the ATF had exceeded its authority in redefining pistol braces as “stabilizing braces.” The court also noted that the definition change was inconsistent with the plain language of the Gun Control Act, which defined a stock as “any part designed and intended solely to support the firing hand.”

The Implications of the Decision

The court’s decision to overturn the ATF’s pistol brace rule is being hailed as a significant victory for gun owners and Second Amendment rights advocates. With this ruling, firearms equipped with pistol braces are no longer considered NFA items unless they meet the definition of an SBR under the Gun Control Act. This decision could potentially save gun owners thousands in taxes, registration fees, and potential legal trouble.

Breaking News: ATF’s Pistol Brace Rule Overturned – What Gun Owners Need to Know

Recent developments in the world of firearms regulation have left many gun owners scrambling to keep up with the latest changes. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in a surprising move, has overturned its 2015 pistol brace rule. This decision may have significant implications for gun owners, particularly those who use pistols with braces. Let’s delve into this important update and explore what it means for the firearms community.

Background on the Pistol Brace Rule

In 2015, the ATF issued an link that outlined new regulations concerning the use of pistol braces. These devices, designed to stabilize pistols for individuals with disabilities or during shooting from a shoulder stock, were reclassified as short-barreled rifles (SBR) if they allowed the pistol to be fired with both hands. This ruling required those who wished to continue using their pistols with braces to register them as NFA (National Firearms Act) items and pay a $200 tax.

The Overturned Pistol Brace Rule: What Changed?

Fast forward to March 2023, and the ATF reversed its stance on pistol braces in a link. Effective immediately, pistol braces will no longer be classified as SBRs if they are designed and used solely for stabilization with one hand. This change is a victory for gun owners who were concerned about the financial burden and regulatory hassle of registering their pistols as NFA items.

Implications for Gun Owners

This reversal of the pistol brace rule has important implications for gun owners. First and foremost, those who had already registered their pistols with braces as SBRs can now apply for a refund of the $200 tax. Furthermore, gun owners can now purchase and use pistols with braces without worrying about registering them as NFA items or paying the associated fees. It is important for gun owners to stay informed about any changes in regulations that may affect their firearms use.

Breaking News: ATF


What is a pistol brace?: A pistol brace is a device designed to be attached to the rear end of a pistol stock. It functions as a stabilizing component, providing additional support and allowing shooters to use a more stable shooting position, especially for those with mobility issues or for shooting from a benchrest. Originally developed for individuals with disabilities and to facilitate easier concealed carry, pistol braces have gained popularity among the firearms community due to their versatility.

History of ATF’s Stance on Pistol Braces:

The 2015 Open Letter and the “bump stock” controversy: In 2015, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) issued an open letter clarifying that “bump fire” stocks, which utilize the recoil of a rifle to facilitate rapid-fire shooting, are legal under federal law as long as they don’t convert a pistol into a fully automatic firearm. The letter also mentioned that “the use of stabilizing braces is not prohibited by the National Firearms Act (NFA) or any other Federal law.”

The 2019 Redefinition of “Short-Barreled Rifle” (SBR): In late 2019, the ATF proposed a rule change redefining what constitutes an “any other weapon (AOW)” and a “short-barreled rifle” (SBR), which would effectively make certain pistol configurations with braces regulated under the National Firearms Act. The proposed change aimed to clarify that a pistol with an attached brace could be considered a “shotgun” if it met certain criteria, such as a barrel length of less than 18 inches and a shoulder stock, making it an NFA item.

Legal Challenge to the Rule Change:

The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) Lawsuit Against the ATF: In response to the proposed rule change, gun rights advocacy groups, including the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), filed a lawsuit against the ATF in December 2019. The FPC argued that the rule change was arbitrary and capricious, as it deviated from the ATF’s long-standing position on pistol braces.

December 2020 Ruling by a U.S. District Court in Texas: In December 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued a ruling temporarily halting the implementation of the ATF’s pistol brace rule change. The court found that the plaintiffs, represented by the FPC, were likely to succeed on their claims and that there was a significant threat of irreparable harm if the rule change were allowed to take effect.

I Impact of the Decision on Gun Owners

Determine which firearms with pistol braces are now considered NFA items

With the new ruling, firearms with an overall length (OAL) of less than 26 inches and a stock that can be shouldered while firing, even if only with the help of a pistol brace, are now considered National Firearms Act (NFA) items. This decision has significant implications for gun owners.

Discuss the implications for gun owners in terms of registration, taxes, background checks, and other NFA requirements

Gun owners will need to apply for a Form 1 or Form 4 to register these firearms as Short Barreled Rifles (SBRs). The registration process involves a cost, time, and paperwork that can be substantial. For example, there is a $200 tax for each application, and the process can take several months.

Evaluate how this decision might affect the gun market and secondary sales of affected firearms

The new ruling might lead to an increase in demand for pistol braces as a quick way to convert firearms into SBRs. This could result in higher prices and fewer available braces on the market. Furthermore, this decision may impact gun dealers and manufacturers, forcing them to adjust their inventory management strategies.

Assess the long-term consequences for gun owners and the Second Amendment community

The long-term consequences of this decision extend beyond just the impact on gun owners. Legal challenges are expected, which could shape future firearms regulations. Staying informed about changes to gun laws and regulations is crucial for the Second Amendment community, as this decision demonstrates.

Breaking News: ATF


In this article, we’ve explored the recent ATF pistol brace rule change, which has left many gun owners feeling uncertain about their firearms. The new ruling, effective as of March 2023, redefines the definition of “rifle” under the National Firearms Act and could potentially impact the use of pistol braces. To recap, the ATF now considers a firearm equipped with a brace to be a short-barreled rifle (SBR) if it is designed or intended to be fired from the shoulder, regardless of whether it is actually used in that manner. This shift in policy has sparked controversy and raised questions about the future of pistol braces.

Significance of the Rule Change

The significance of this rule change lies in its potential impact on gun owners, particularly those who rely on pistol braces for stability or mobility. For some, the use of a brace can make shooting more comfortable and accurate, especially for individuals with physical limitations. With the new definition, these gun owners may now be required to register their firearms as SBRs and pay the associated taxes and fees. Additionally, those who possess pistol braces without proper registration could face penalties, including fines or even criminal charges.

Stay Informed and Seek Professional Advice

Given the potential consequences of noncompliance, it’s essential for gun owners to stay informed about changes in firearms regulations and consult legal professionals for advice on their specific situations. The ATF pistol brace rule change is just one example of how quickly the regulatory landscape can shift, making it crucial to remain vigilant and proactive in understanding the laws that apply to your firearms. By staying informed and seeking guidance from experts, gun owners can ensure they are complying with the law while still enjoying their right to bear arms.