Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ATF Clarifies Legality of Pistol Arm Brace Use

Ad from 2013

Late in 2012, the ATF approved of a device that fit on the buffer tube of AR-15 style pistols. It made one handed shooting of these firearms much easier, and hence more accurate. The SB15 was invented by a disabled veteran, Alex Bosco. He quickly sold the rights to produce the arm brace to Sig Sauer.

As you can see, the device can also be used as a very short stock for the AR-15 pistol, even though that is not what it is designed for.  Many people have put the brace to this use, as it is much easier to purchase AR-15 pistols and a brace than it is to go through all the bureaucratic and bizarre requirements to obtain a legal short barreled rifle (SBR) or short barreled shotgun (SBS). The legal restrictions on SBS and SBR firearms never made any sense. They only made sense if the federal government put the same restriction on handguns, as FDR attempted to do in 1934. That attempt failed, due in large part because of lobbying by the NRA.

In 2015, the ATF issued an open letter claiming that using the arm brace as a shoulder stock was a "redesign" of the pistol as an SBR.
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.
The letter is an egregious stretch of the definition of "redesign" and is virtually unenforceable.  Now that the ATF is part of the Trump administration, things have changed. The first substantial hint was a white paper by BATFE second in command, Ronald B. Turk, dated the day of President Trump's inauguration, January 20th, 2017. The paper was leaked to the Washington Post.

In the paper, Mr. Turk indicated that the ATF would be open to removing the "redesign" language form the open letter. From the white paper:

... ATF could amend the determination letter to remove the language indicating that simple use of a product for a purpose other than intended by the manufacturer - without additional proof or redesign - may result in re-classification as an NFA weapon.
SB tactical has now reported the ATF has reversed the position of the 2015 open letter, as suggested in Mr. Turk's leaked white paper. From SB-Tactical:
SB Tactical™, inventors and manufacturers of the Pistol Stabilizing Brace®, is excited to announce that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) has issued SB Tactical a reversal letter containing a sensible clarification of the Bureau’s position on the lawful use of SB Tactical braces.

The new clarification of opinion letter states, “an NFA firearm has not necessarily been made when the device is not reconfigured for use as a shoulder stock – even if the attached firearm happens to be fired from the shoulder. To the extent that the January 2015 Open Letter implied or has been construed to hold that incidental, sporadic, or situational “use” of an arm-brace (in its original approved configuration) equipped firearm from a firing position at or near the shoulder was sufficient to constitute “redesign,” such interpretations are incorrect and not consistent with ATF’s interpretation of the statute or the manner in which it has historically been enforced.”

SB Tactical, along with the law offices of Mark Barnes & Associates, have worked tirelessly for more than two years to correct what they believed to be an inaccurate interpretation of “redesign,” related to the Pistol Stabilizing Brace. “It has always been our belief that the addition of our Pistol Stabilizing Brace benefits shooters, both disabled and able-bodied, and that neither strapping it to your arm nor shouldering a brace equipped pistol would constitute ‘redesign’ of a pistol to a NFA firearm”, said Alex Bosco, inventor, founder and CEO of SB Tactical. “We are strongly encouraged by the ATF’s reversal of opinion and commend their willingness to continually review policy, including their own opinions, to ensure public safety and the fulfillment of their mission.”
There is no logical reason for SBS or SBR firearms to be regulated or restricted any more than handguns and pistols are. This change in interpretation by the ATF makes that abundantly clear. It seems likely the Trump administration will be able to make major reforms in the National Firearms Act.

Removing silencers, SBR and SBS firearms from the cumbersome and expensive bureaucratic controls of the NFA would be a logical and long overdue reform that fits well with the Trump agenda of protecting Second Amendment rights and reducing burdensome regulations.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.


Anonymous said...

Any one remember the phrase "Shall Not Be Infringed" the only authority the BATFE has is from an unconstitutional act and subsequent political opinions that are all unconstitutional by fact of written law. No one in the BATFE is an elected official and having no authority to pass laws or regulations enforced as laws there is no legal way to claim authority from unconstitutional acts. said...

Yes indeed. That makes perfect sense. Now how do we get them to quit violating our right to own and bear? Some serious changes in the way BATFE is allowed to operate are in order. Maybe the current administration will tackle it.

Anonymous said...

Well said anonymous, my thoughts exactly. For too long the people have been suckered into believing that "rules/regulation" somehow equals law. The NFA & GCA are completely outside of their constitutional boundaries and the traitors interpreting the BOR's know that they're usurping powers not given to them.

Anonymous said...

The danger here is that since these changes are regulatory changes by a regulatory agency and not legislative changes, they can just as easily and quickly be reversed when an anti gun administration gets back into office.

We would be much better served by insisting congress actually pass legislation stating that shouldering a forearm brace is not a crime, and removing SBRs, SBSs, and suppressors from the NFA. Better yet, congress should repeal the NFA altogether.

I fear regulatory changes like this at ATF will cut the legs out from under any such legislation.

Anonymous said...

You make the point that I have been arguing for decades. None of these regulation makers are elected to make laws. People go to jail for violating these unconstitutional regulations. Do you see the problem? some 0nes opinion can ruin someone's life. we did not elect legislators to create law by appointing opinion makers to politicize an issue. the NRA never argues the basic issue. that issue is that congress never had the authority to pass the NFA or any other arms legislation. We surely do not need political hacks making unconstitutional regulations. Note the di8fference in the spelling of the words law and regulation. Law is enforceable and regulations can be changed by the whim of any one able to do so that has never been elected to make law. there is nothing that is constitutionally valid when it comes to weapons laws. It even states in the constitution that bad laws are unenforceable. when arms laws are passed in violation of Shall Not be infringed they are repugnant and have no force of effect and can not be enforced. stop accepting what these so called legal experts are spewing because they are all protecting their gravy train. It has been my experi3nce that finding an honest attorney is as easy as finding a straight pin in an 80 acre hay field without even bending one blade of hay the day before cutting. that is why I refuse to get a legal license and choose to represent myself. I believe you can multiply that hay field effort several times to find an honest judge. Now think about this attorneys and judges are far better than politicians. the problem with our constitutional system is that attorneys and judges aspire to be politicians.
The constitution does not requires any one to be trained in law to be an elected official that makes law or enforces law. any one with integrity, honor, dignity, common sense and the ability to read and write can hold elected office and write competent laws. Most people with common sense understand the meaning of NO. Shall not be infringed is a big NO. No laws can be made that interfere with our right to own what ever arms we damn well please, carry them any way we please any where we please and we do not have to ask any one else's permission to do so. congress can pass laws to correct poor behavior when exercising any right. I do not get to shoot you because I ran out of paper targets. I do not get to run over you with my car just because I can. I do not get to yell fire in a theater even is that is the only word I have ever learned to say. deaf mutes can get a drivers license. soon with the invent of driverless car technology the blind will be buying cars. white red tipped canes will be as out of fashion as the Gatling gun. I could make the case that a Gatling Gun is actually legal to deer hunt with. that is how screwed up our laws are. and we owe it all to ignorant incompetent politicians that have no Idea of what they are passing laws for.

Anonymous said...

I think paying dues to the NRA compares to dropping your soap in the shower and hoping nothing happens when you bend over to pick it up. It is my belief the NRA could have resolved these issues decades ago but what reason would there be to pay dues for decades if the second amendment were to be enforced as written ? hang them all upside down with barbed wire around their balls and I would bet this issue is resolved very fast. the problem with reversing regulations is how do you get your confiscated property back, how do you get the time in jail back how do you get your self respect back. Money does not repair everything. it is wrong for to day but tomorrow it is legal. It was always legal until a law is passed to make it illegal and the law must be constitutional. regulations are not laws the same as laws and acts are not amendments. If you do not know what the law says find a copy and read it. first read the seven articles of the constitution until you completely understand exactly what it says. How many of you that are so worried about their rights have actually set down and read the bill of rights?. I bought a 3 x 6 inch pocket book for a dollar 1.99, I keep it with me when I am away from my files and computer. it is 1/4 inch thick and is a complete copy of the constitution, bill of rights all amendments and important supreme court rulings. the book is titled "The Constitution and fascinating facts about it", start reading, start learning or shut up.

Anonymous said...

I think Charlton Hesston said it best they can have my empty gun when they take it out of my cold dead hand. I'm sure I said exactly that first. a badge indicates you have the authority to enforce and investigate law. it is not immunity from being required to be human or civil. It is not permission to be a bully . it is not permission to violate the laws you are required to enforce. it bestows no special rights or protections. Fact a person wearing a badge is some one that has been hired to do, what any legal citizen could do if they need to. I can shoot a thief, I can make a citizens arrest, I can even write down what I see and know, I'm actually able to ask questions of witnesses. we hire cops to do these things for us. the pinning on of a badge does not and never has created a God. A badge indicates an employee my taxes are paying the wages of. Not a person who's ass I am required to kiss or bow down to because he has forced his way into my presents. the next cop that forces his way into my home illegally is going to have to bring friends that will drag him out. BAD attitude friends can become major bullet collectors. lets see I love long haired blue eyed Blonde females. I really dislike Attorneys, judges, corrupt cops and politicians. Maybe I think our government has turned in to something our constitution says we should remove and replace. If you do not take the garbage out regularly it begins to smell. Trump is making a good effort and needs all the help he can get. the apples at the bottom of the barrel have been there the longest and are the first to spoil. there are always a few on the top that are bruised and starting to spoil. It requires a wide mouth Vacuum to clean the white house and a large Roto router to clean the drain in the swamp. a lot of big heads are going through that drain. I wonder if I could recognize John McCain if he was head less. Just have to look for the song bird feathers for a positive ID.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion the ATF is an illegal/unconstitutional agency. the act that created the AFT is an act not an amendment. the entire structure of American gun control is unconstitutional. we have a process to change the constitution and acts and laws are not it. we either have a constitution or we do not. Government is required to protect our rights no turn them into privileges.

Anonymous said...

For far too long the people, the citizens have been letting government get away with far too much. the constitution gives us the tools to recall or impeach these incompetent's. it is our fault they get away with this crap. we get the government we deserve if we do not stand up to it. tell me I can not carry then make your best effort to take my guns away. One of us will prevail.