ATF to Issue Guidance on Stabilizing Braces - Submit a Comment by Jan. 4

On Friday, December 18th, 2020, the ATF published a document in the Federal Registry titled "Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with Stabilizing Braces."

It's important to note that the publication of this document does not by itself ban pistol braces, as the ATF does not have that authority. However, the information the document contains lays the groundwork for restrictions on firearms with a stabilizing brace.

You can read the entire document in the Federal Registry. Here is the summary:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives ("ATF") is publishing the objective factors it considers when evaluating firearms with an attached stabilizing brace to determine whether they are considered firearms under the National Firearms Act ("NFA") and/or the Gun Control Act ("GCA").

ATF publishes this notice to inform and invite comment from the industry and public on the proposed guidance, Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with "Stabilizing Braces," prior to issuing a final document. Upon issuance of final guidance, ATF will provide additional information to aid persons and companies in complying with Federal laws and regulations.

This notice also outlines ATF's enforcement priorities regarding persons who, prior to publication of this notice, made or acquired, in good faith, firearms equipped with a stabilized brace.

Finally, this notice previews ATF's and the Department of Justice's plan to subsequently implement a separate process for current possessors of stabilizer-equipped firearms to choose to register such firearms in compliance with the NFA, including an expedited application process and the retroactive exemption of such firearms from the collection of NFA taxes.

It may not be a coincidence that the agency designates only 14 days for comment, and this time period spans the holiday season when people are otherwise occupied with family and friends. Perhaps they would prefer not to hear what gun owners have to say when they learn the options they have for owning a braced pistol.

It appears you would have four choices: 1) Destroy your braced firearm, 2) Remove all of the prohibited parts, 3) Turn over the gun to the government, or 4) Register your gun as a Short Barreled Rifle.

According to the document, if you acquired your braced pistol "in good faith," you would have the option to register it as an NFA weapon without paying the ordinary $200 tax stamp fee. Though you should be aware that your firearm will then be registered with the government and part of a massive gun registry. Estimates suggest that the general public owns from 4 to 6 million braced pistols.

Undoubtedly lawsuits are in the works to fight this infringement of rights. However, for what it's worth, we urge you to submit a comment to the AFT and Department of Justice.

Submit a Comment by January 4, 2021

You may submit comments, identified by docket number ATF 2020R-10, by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Ave. NE, Mail Stop 6N-518, Washington, DC 20226; ATTN: ATF 2020R-10
  • Fax: (202) 648-9741

All comments must reference this document's docket number (ATF 2020R-10), be legible, and include the commenter's complete first and last name and full mailing address. ATF will not consider, or respond to, comments that do not meet these requirements or comments containing excessive profanity.

Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted on or before January 4, 2021. All properly completed comments received will be posted without change to the Federal eRulemaking portal,, including any personal information provided.

Click here to comment.

Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, #1 NRA Recruiter for 2013, business owner and partner with Second Call Defense.

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