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ATF Reverses Position on Open Letter, Banning the Use of Shouldering a Pistol Brace

ATF Reverses Position on Open Letter, Banning the Use of Shouldering a Pistol Brace

Posted by James Taylor on Apr 25th 2017


In 2013, SB Tactical introduced the AR-pistol “stabilizing brace.” Navy veteran Alex Bosco designed the brace for a wounded warrior who had lost an arm in combat. The ATF approved the device for general use. Many exaggeratedly curious people realized that an AR-15 pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace may be used as a short-barreled rifle (SBR) if you just shoulder it... So Instead of simply keeping it to themselves, just pulling the trigger, and Smiling; or waiting for a precedent to take place... Droves of people worried about violating NFA requirements, Relentlessly wrote the ATF asking for clarification over and over and over... and in May 2014 the ATF answered, in a letter addressed to Sergeant Joe Bradley of the Greenwood Police Department in Colorado Excerpt:

"...Firing of a weapon from a particular position, such as placing the receiver extension of an AR-15 type pistol on the user’s shoulder, does not change the classification of a weapon…. Further, certain firearm accessories such as the SIG stability brace have not been classified by the FTB as shoulder stocks and, therefore, using the brace improperly does not constitute a design change."



But that was not good enough was it ? We all just had to keep pushing and pushing and writing more and more redundant letters to the ATF asking for even more clarification...

With all the activity, anti-gunners got wind of it , and as a result...Just hours before SHOT Show 2015, as a nice little Obama Gun Control era gift, the BATFE released , what im sure was forced by the Anti-Gun Administration, an open letter determining that shouldering and firing a pistol with brace constituted a “redesign” and may fall under the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA). Here is an excerpt of that Jan 2015 letter that had the gun community up in arms:

"...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 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...." [ Entire ATF letter here]

I guess we learned our lesson and ceased to push the issue further. The good behavior, proper voting, and patience has finally proven to pay off... try to keep up! <deep inhale> Just 3 days prior to the 2017 NRA Annual Meeting , The ATF has now Reversed The hated 2015 open letter Banning the shouldering of Pistol braces, that reversed the a previous May 2014 determination, stating that Pistol braces could be shouldered as further clarification that the initial 2003 approval of Pistol braces made it a possibility of shouldering a pistol brace that was not intentionally designed to be shouldered... Excerpt of the April 2017 Letter:

"With respect to stabilizing braces, ATF has concluded that attaching the brace to a handgun as a forearm brace does not “make” a short-barreled rifle because in the configuration as submitted to and approved by FATD [Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division], it is not intended to be and cannot comfortably be fired from the shoulder. If, however, the shooter/possessor takes affirmative steps to configure the device for use as a shoulder stock–for example, configuring the brace as to permanently affix it to the end of a buffer tube, (thereby creating a length that has no other purpose than to facilitate its use as a stock), removing the arm-strap, or otherwise undermining its ability to be used as a brace – and then in fact shoots the firearms from the shoulder using the accessory as a shoulder stock that person has objectively “redesigned” the firearm for purposes of the NFA. This conclusion is not based upon the mere fact that the firearm was fired from the shoulder at some point. Therefore, an NFA firearm has not necessarily been made when the device is not re-configured for use as a shoulder stock – even if the attached firearm happens to be fired from the shoulder"

So now....