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The ATF has issued an open letter on the stabilizing brace issue

John Pierce

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Based upon a flurry of questions from friends and clients, on December 28th of last year I wrote an article entitled “Has the ATF changed their mind about the Sig brace?”

In that article I pointed out that the ATF is seemingly taking the position that “using the brace as a stock would constitute a ‘redesign’ or ‘remaking’ of a weapon ‘designed to be fired from the should’” and therefore subject to the registration and taxation requirements of the NFA.

Several people contacted me to express their opinion that I was reading too much into the recent letters from the ATF.

It appears however that I was correct in my interpretation of which way the wind was blowing. Today the ATF has released an open letter to the NFA community in which they ‘clarify’ their position on the use of stabilizing braces.

The entire letter is embedded below but the key messages from the letter are:

1) “Any person who redesigns a stabilizing brace for use as a shoulder stock makes a NFA firearm when attached to a pistol with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a handgun with a smooth bore under 18 inches in length.

2) “Redesign is defined as ‘to alter the appearance or function of’.

3) “Since the pistol stabilizing brace was neither ‘designed’ nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, use as a shoulder stock constitutes a ‘redesign’ of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item.

4) “Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.”

Despite the absurdity of a position that misuse of an item constitutes a remaking of that item, it appears that the age of the ‘poor man’s SBR’ has come to an end.

For links and the complete document see my complete article at my law practice blog.
 

MAC702

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This is exactly the confusion we need at just the perfect time for the so-called conservative Congress to do away with the NFA registry. They will completely ignore and squander this opportunity, of course.

The ATF lost control and is desperately trying to get it back, while proving without a doubt that they did not deserve the control to start with.
 
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davidmcbeth

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I can use the standard AR as a single hand stabilizer too, placing it between my arm and body...so what.

The brace is designed to be used on one's forearm.

I don't really see the ATF letter having much meaning other than some guy working there on a Friday writing it in five minutes.
 

utbagpiper

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I don't really see the ATF letter having much meaning other than some guy working there on a Friday writing it in five minutes.
If I read John's post correctly, the ATF letter will mean a lot to the guy who has such a brace and makes the mistake of raising it to his shoulder (or letting his kid do so) to shoot his handgun and is seen doing so by an ATF agent.

That lucky gun owner just bought himself felony charges and the chance to either go bankrupt (and likely get divorced) fighting them, or be castigated by the RKBA community for accepting a plea deal that costs him his gun and a hefty fine, but avoids jail time and a felony.

Charles
 

WalkingWolf

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This is exactly the confusion we need at just the perfect time for the so-called conservative Congress to do away with the NFA registry. They will completely ignore and squander this opportunity, of course.

The ATF lost control and is desperately trying to get it back, while proving without a doubt that they did not deserve the control to start with.
Conservatives are not pro rights, IMO, and I consider myself a constitutional conservative. The conservatives in Congress are interested in the same thing the liberals in Congress are interested in, control of the people. Only a few Congress persons actually trust the people to make decisions for themselves.
 

utbagpiper

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Conservatives are not pro rights, IMO, and I consider myself a constitutional conservative. The conservatives in Congress are interested in the same thing the liberals in Congress are interested in, control of the people. Only a few Congress persons actually trust the people to make decisions for themselves.
One should avoid confusing "Republicans" with "Conservatives". Even in the current congress, there are painfully few conservatives.

And forget the people making decisions for themselves, very few in congress trust the States to make decisions for themselves.

However, as we move from congress down to the State legislatures, we find many who are sincere in their support of RKBA and have moved steadily--if somewhat slowly--toward ever greater statutory respect for RKBA. (True conservatives do move slowly when making changes.)

Charles
 

twoskinsonemanns

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Conservatives are not pro rights, IMO, and I consider myself a constitutional conservative. The conservatives in Congress are interested in the same thing the liberals in Congress are interested in, control of the people. Only a few Congress persons actually trust the people to make decisions for themselves.
Bingo! I can't really agree that congress is looking at it's new found Repub numbers as an opportunity to return stolen rights...That's a little naive.
 

1245A Defender

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Well,,,

I can use the standard AR as a single hand stabilizer too, placing it between my arm and body...so what.

The brace is designed to be used on one's forearm.

I don't really see the ATF letter having much meaning other than some guy working there on a Friday writing it in five minutes.
the letter is nothing but a warning!
the brace looks like a but stock,,, but it isnt a but stock.
just use it as designed when you want to make a public picture.
it sure is an effective but stock,
but only use it that way in private... problem solved!
 

davidmcbeth

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the letter is nothing but a warning!
the brace looks like a but stock,,, but it isnt a but stock.
just use it as designed when you want to make a public picture.
it sure is an effective but stock,
but only use it that way in private... problem solved!
That's what I see it being ... the paper is nonsense for all intensive purposes
 

MSG Laigaie

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16 Jan 15 Sig brace letter

http://www.atf.gov/sites/default/files/assets/Firearms/FirearmsIndustry/open_letter_on_the_redesign_of_stabilizing_braces.pdf

OPEN LETTER ON THE REDESIGN OF “STABILIZING BRACES”
The Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has received inquiries from the public concerning the proper use of devices recently marketed as “stabilizing braces.” These devices are described as “a shooter’s aid that is designed to improve the single-handed shooting performance of buffer tube equipped pistols.” The device claims to enhance accuracy and reduce felt recoil when using an AR-style pistol. These items are intended to improve accuracy by using the operator’s forearm to provide stable support for the AR-type pistol. .ATF has previously determined that attaching the brace to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to National Firearms Act (NFA) control However, this classification is based upon the use of the device as designed. When the device is redesigned for use as a shoulder stock on a handgun with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length, the firearm is properly classified as a firearm under the NFA. The NFA, 26 USCS § 5845, defines “firearm,” in relevant part, as “a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length” and “a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.” That section defines both “rifle” and “shotgun” as “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder….” (Emphasis added). Pursuant to the plain language of the statute, ATF and its predecessor agency have long held that a pistol with a barrel less than 16 inches in length and an attached shoulder stock is a NFA “firearm.” For example, in Revenue Ruling 61-45, Luger and Mauser pistols “having a barrel of less than 16 inches in length with an attachable shoulder stock affixed” were each classified as a “short barrel rifle…within the purview of the National Firearms Act.”
In classifying the originally submitted design, ATF considered the objective design of the item as well as the stated purpose of the item. In submitting this device for classification, the designer noted that
The intent of the buffer tube forearm brace is to facilitate one handed firing of the AR15 pistol for those with limited strength or mobility due to a handicap. It also performs the function of sufficiently padding the buffer tube in order to reduce bruising to the forearm while firing with one hand. Sliding and securing the brace onto ones forearm and latching the Velcro straps, distributes the weight of the weapon evenly and assures a snug fit. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to dangerously "muscle" this large pistol during the one handed aiming process, and recoil is dispersed significantly, resulting in more accurate shooting without compromising safety or comfort.
In the classification letter of November 26, 2012, ATF noted that a “shooter would insert his or her forearm into the device while gripping the pistol's handgrip-then tighten the Velcro straps for additional support and retention. Thus configured, the device provides the shooter with additional support of a firearm while it is still held and operated with one hand.” When strapped to the wrist and used as designed, it is clear the device does not allow the firearm to be fired from the shoulder. Therefore, ATF concluded that, pursuant to the information provided, “the device
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is not designed or intended to fire a weapon from the shoulder.”
In making the classification ATF determined that the objective design characteristics of the stabilizing brace supported the stated intent.
ATF hereby confirms that if used as designed—to assist shooters in stabilizing a handgun while shooting with a single hand—the device is not considered a shoulder stock and therefore may be attached to a handgun without making a NFA firearm. However, ATF has received numerous inquiries regarding alternate uses for this device, including use as a shoulder stock. Because the NFA defines both rifle and shotgun to include any “weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder,” any person who redesigns a stabilizing brace for use as a shoulder stock makes a NFA firearm when attached to a pistol with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a handgun with a smooth bore under 18 inches in length.
The GCA does not define the term “redesign” and therefore ATF applies the common meaning. “Redesign” is defined as “to alter the appearance or function of.” See e.g. Webster’s II New College Dictionary, Third Ed. (2005). This is not a novel interpretation. For example ATF has previously advised that an individual possesses a destructive device when possessing anti-personnel ammunition with an otherwise unregulated 37/38mm flare launcher. See ATF Ruling 95-3. Further, ATF has advised that even use of an unregulated flare and flare launcher as a weapon results in the making of a NFA weapon. Similarly, ATF has advised that, although otherwise unregulated, the use of certain nail guns as weapons may result in classification as an “any other weapon.”
The pistol stabilizing brace was neither “designed” nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a “redesign” of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item. Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.
Any person who intends to use a handgun stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock on a pistol (having a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a smooth bore firearm with a barrel under 18 inches in length) must first file an ATF Form 1 and pay the applicable tax because the resulting firearm will be subject to all provisions of the NFA.
If you have any questions about the issues addressed in this letter, you may contact the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division at fire_tech@atf.gov or by phone at (304) 616-4300.
Max M. Kingery
Acting Chief
Firearms Technology Criminal Branch
Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division
 

twoskinsonemanns

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It seems so ridiculous that the way a fire arm is held could possibly reclassify it. Beyond absurd.
 

twoskinsonemanns

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Just an example of how petty our government comes when controlling the people.
Come to think of it. Everytime I've seen a standard AR15 pistol shot, the shooter was using the buffer tube just like a stock.
I suppose those guns should also be reclassified.

Defund this stupid agency. Done.
I wish! I don't think it will ever happen though.
 

MAC702

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It seems so ridiculous that the way a firearm is held could possibly reclassify it. Beyond absurd.
So if we go prone, sitting, kneeling, or Creedmore positions with a handgun we are screwed.

It's too bad that they won't prosecute this, though I predict there will be detainments and arrests. This needs to see a courtroom, but they will make sure it does not.
 

Maverick9

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How would they enforce 'shouldering'? Problem with vague laws is someone sees you with one, alleges you shouldered it and you didn't. Voila, arrest potential.
 

Kopis

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There is no telling how many people wrote the ATF asking if they could shoulder the sig brace when they were already shouldering the buffer tube anyway. We did this to ourselves with all the ATF letters and people/gear reviewers putting up pictures and videos of them shouldering the sig brace.

Like the other posters have said above, do whatever you want in private but for me, the sig brace is very helpful as i have very weak wrist strength. :cool:

3) “Since the pistol stabilizing brace was neither ‘designed’ nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, use as a shoulder stock constitutes a ‘redesign’ of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item.
If i use a crescent wrench as a hammer because i cant find a hammer, does that make it a hammer or as good as a hammer? no it doesnt. I just dont see how using something improperly constitutes a redesign.



People like this guy below in the attorney's original article that post pictures of them using it as a stock and with a VFG attached? plain stupid.
Pistol_Brace_Shouldered-300x199.jpg
 
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