Pistol braces are a popular accessory for many AR-15s, AKs, and other types of modular rifles. Unfortunately, they have been under the chopping block by the ATF for quite some time now.
In 2022 at the time of this writing, it seems we are about to see the ATF finally strike down these pistol braces. So, what does this mean for gun owners and our rights?
A pistol brace, or stabilizing brace, is an accessory commonly used for AR-15 style rifles. The intention is for shooters with disabilities to be able to use AR style rifles with one hand, or for use with shorter barreled ARs.
Over time, these pistol braces have become commonplace on AR pistols. Under the National Firearms Act (NFA), any firearm with a barrel under 16” is considered a short barreled rifle (SBR), unless certain attachments designate it as a pistol. With pistol braces, rifles with barrels under 16” could be considered a pistol, forgoing the need for a tax stamp for an SBR.
As of 2017, the ATF did not consider shouldering a pistol brace to be violating any laws, for the most part. However, with a proposed ban on pistol braces introduced in 2021, that all may change.
In the summer of 2022, the ATF announced that it would be making a final decision on pistol braces in December of 2022.
Many political commentators, social media personalities, and firearms rights advocates have speculated that the ATF will effectively ban pistol braces for good.
Most recently in August of 2022, sources have stated that the ATF plans to implement an “amnesty period” for braced pistols where they will allow gun owners to register their pistol as an SBR.
The ATF intends to waive the $200 tax stamp fee during this amnesty period, but it seems the period only lasts 90 days. Odds are there simply is not enough time for the ATF to process all applications in time before the final decision takes effect.
Many gun owners used pistol braces as a means to avoid the tax stamp requirement, so there are many pistols out there that would need to submit the application for an SBR. It seems this is just another attempt from the federal government to limit second amendment rights for law abiding citizens.
The future of pistol braces looks bleak. What was once a great tool for shooters with disabilities and a workaround for the lengthy SBR tax stamp process now may be gone for good.
The final announcement is yet to be made, which is expected to be announced in December of 2022. With the way this is going, many hints point towards the ATF effectively banning pistol braces.
It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. Like all gun control measures, this one is unfounded and sure to be poorly handled. Criminals will not be phased by this news, but law-abiding gun owners will yet again have their second amendment rights diminished.
Although unfortunate, many gun owners see the ban on pistol braces as an inevitability. This is yet again a reminder that the firearms community should stick together and advocate for our second amendment rights.