ATF amends regulations to outlaw pistol-stabilizing braces

by Jacob Fuller

Katie Kerekes, FISM News

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has amended its regulations to include what critics are calling one of the broadest gun control rulings in recent history.

“The new rule will overnight move shorter-barreled firearms equipped with stabilizing ‘braces’ into the Al Capone-era National Firearms Act category that requires federal approval before purchase,” the Washington Examiner reports.

Signed by Attorney General Merrick Garland on January 13, the ruling is set to be published in the Federal Registrar on Tuesday and gives current gun owners a 120-day window to adhere to the amended regulation.

A summary of the regulation on the ATF’s website reads:

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.

Garland defended the ruling in a statement, claiming the braces have the ability to “transform [pistols] into short-barreled rifles,” and accused firearm manufacturers, dealers, and citizens exercising their Second Amendment right of evading “important public safety protections” by adding these accessories to their handguns.

Such stabilizing braces are popular and readily available at gun retailers.


The ruling has sparked nationwide controversy, with many gun rights organizations vowing to challenge it via lawsuits, and conservative lawmakers exploring options to implement legislative prohibitions.

Just five days after the ruling was signed by the attorney general, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced H.R.374, a bill to abolish the ATF, citing the bureau’s recent regulation as the “final straw.”

The continued existence of the ATF is increasingly unwarranted based on the actions they’re taking to convert otherwise law-abiding people into felons,” Gaetz said in a statement. “My bill would abolish the ATF. If that doesn’t work, we’re going to try defunding the ATF. If that doesn’t work, we’re going to target the individual bureaucrats at the top of the ATF who have exceeded their authority in rulemaking. And if that doesn’t work, we’re going to take a meat cleaver to the statutes that the ATF believes broadly authorize their actions.

With concerns raised that the new regulation would disproportionately affect disabled veterans who rely on the braces, the ATF has released an impact analysis that refutes this claim and denies that the ruling would affect tens of millions of firearms.

However, Gaetz says the ATF bureaucrats are grossly uninformed in terms of firearm mechanics and specifics.

“The people at the ATF making these rules fundamentally don’t understand firearms,” he continued. “I think they are under the flawed conception that a stabilizing brace increases the lethality or danger of a pistol. It seems the ATF is on a snipe hunt for regulatory action that virtue signals to the anti-gun left, but that has no real practical safety impact on Americans.”

Gaetz says he fully expects ATF bureaucrats to be held accountable to the Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks and months, and questions the legitimacy of the bureau’s existence entirely.