SAF Advises Strategy as ATF Deadline Looms for Comment on Stabilizer Braces

ATF is proposing a rule change that will affect owners of pistol stabilizing braces like this one from SIG SAUER. Deadline for comment is Sept. 8.

U.S.A.-( With the Sept. 8 deadline looming to submit comments to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on the proposed rule change regarding the classification of pistol stabilizer braces, the Second Amendment Foundation has launched a video tutorial and is providing tips to gun owners about how to get their comments in on time.

SAF has already submitted its 14-page detailed perspective on the proposal, and it pulls no punches. Right up front, the gun rights organization tells the ATF Office of Regulatory Affairs, “ATF does not have the authority to impose NFA control on stabilizing braces and its proposed rule will threaten millions of citizens with prison, harsh fines, forfeiture of firearms, and the loss of the right to own or possess firearms should they fail to comply with ATF’s policy change. The NFA was not amended for these changes. No new laws were passed. Instead, ATF decided to change the scope of the NFA on its own, imposing significant burdens on core constitutional rights of over a million law abiding citizens.”

According to SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, “ATF wants to reclassify millions of stabilizing brace-equipped pistols by making them subject to the National Firearms Act (NFA). If that happens, current owners of such pistols would need to register their guns and pay a $200 tax on each one, or turn it in to the ATF, or take one of several other undesirable options.”

SAF’s Alan Gottlieb

For Gottlieb, it’s a non-starter.

“Under the proposed rule,” he says in his letter to ATF,  “affected persons (i.e., persons who possess stabilizing brace equipped pistols caught by ATF’s expanded NFA controls) would need to take one of the following actions before the effective date of a final rule:

  1. Permanently remove or alter the stabilizing brace such that it cannot be reattached, converting the firearm back to its original pistol configuration;
  2. Remove the short barrel and attach a 16-inch or longer barrel to the pistol;
  3. Destroy the firearm;
  4. Turn the firearm into a local ATF office; or
  5. Complete and submit an Application to Make and Register a Firearm, ATF Form 1 and pay the $200 tax.”

According to Gottlieb’s letter, under the proposed rule, ATF “now seeks to amend the definition of ‘rifle’ in definitional sections of the regulations implementing the Gun Control Act (of 1968) and NFA …to expand NFA control to cover ‘any weapon with a rifled barrel equipped with an accessory or component purported to assist the shooter (to) stabilize the weapon while shooting with none hand, commonly referred to as a ‘stabilizing brace’ that has objective design features and characteristics that facilitate shoulder fire, as indicated on a new proposed ATF Worksheet 4999.”

It sets up a system of “point values” ranging from 0 to 4 points “based upon the degree of the indicator,” according to Gottlieb’s letter to ATF. This is the point system:

  • 1 point: Minor Indicator (the weapon could be fired from the shoulder)
  • 2 points: Moderate Indicator (the weapon may be designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder)
  • 3 points: Strong Indicator (the weapon is likely designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder)
  • 4 points: Decisive Indicator (the weapon is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder)

The problem with this, according to Gottlieb, is that a firearm accumulating 4 or more points in either section will be classified as an NFA short barreled rifle (SBR), while a pistol that accumulates less than 4 points in Section II (Accessory characteristics) and less than 4 points in Section III (Configuration of Weapon) “will generally be determined not to be designed to be fired from the shoulder.”

“However,” he states, “ATF reserves the discretion to impose NFA control on any pistol not caught by the scoring scheme where ‘there is evidence that the manufacturer or maker expressly intended to design the weapon to be fired from the shoulder.’ In other words, as stated in the proposed ATF Worksheet 4999, the scheme would allow ATF to impose NFA control over pistols that do not exceed the stated threshold.”

The deadline is less than two weeks away. Gun owners may submit comments online here.

“Time is running out and we want to provide millions of targeted gun owners the means to weigh in on this alarming proposal,” Gottlieb said.

Written comments may be sent to:

Denise Brown, Mail Stop 6N– 518

Office of Regulatory Affairs

Enforcement Programs and Services

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

99 New York Ave. NE

Washington, DC 20226

ATTN: ATF 2021R-08

Gottlieb concludes his letter to ATF by stating, “ATF’s authority under the NFA is limited. It must focus on clear rules that conform to the law and that do not violate constitutional rights. 45 ATF must not, as it proposes, open the Pandora’s box of unjustified burdens and legal infirmities presented by its proposed rule. Because of this, and based on the above, SAF urges ATF to reconsider its position.”

For more information on SAF, visit their website.

About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman

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