USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Welcome back to The Legal Brief, the show where we CRUSH the various legal myths and misinformation surrounding various areas of the gun world. I’m your host Adam Kraut and today we are talking about the bombshell ATF just dropped and how you can now legally shoulder an Arm Brace.
You may remember at SHOT Show 2015 when ATF shocked the gun community by releasing an open letter in relation to “stabilizing braces” which proclaimed that if you shouldered an AR pistol with a brace attached you had created an illegal SBR. For the analysis of what lead up to this, be sure to check out the video we did on that topic called Can You Legally Shoulder Sig Arm Brace. :shake head: I guess that’s English.
Sig Arm Brace
Well thanks to the perseverance of SB Tactical, it seems ATF has clarified the analytical framework it used to get from A to B, at least in relation to SB Tactical’s products. ATF’s new letter begins describing the definition of a firearm under the National Firearms Act or NFA, the definition of a rifle or shotgun and that it has long held that a pistol with a barrel length of less than 16 inches and an attached shoulder stock is an NFA firearm pursuant to the plain language of the statute. ATF further states that “because the stabilizing brace was not designed as a shoulder stock, ‘use’ of the device as a shoulder stock would constitute a ‘redesign’ of the firearm to which it was attached, resulting in the classification of the firearm as a short-barrel rifle.
SB Tactical pointed out to ATF that its analysis of the term “‘use’ was untenable because the mere use of an otherwise lawfully possessed item for a purpose for which it was not designed does not constitute a ‘redesign’ as defined in the NFA.” The argument was supported by examples I’ve previously used in blog articles such as the misuse of a screwdriver or a hammer along with several other examples.
ATF rejected what it described as the “unstated but logical conclusion” of such an analysis, because something was designed, intended and marketed as a stabilizing brace, it could not be a shoulder stock. However, the ATF continues on “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, it is not intended to be and cannot comfortably be fired from the shoulder.”
You may remember from my blog articles that I’ve constantly raised the point that a redesign would require some affirmative step on the part of the individual. Simply shouldering a firearm equipped with a brace would not be enough but rather somehow changing the brace or building a firearm with a brace with the intent to shoulder it from the beginning might put the firearm into the purview of the NFA. Apparently, ATF agrees with me.
The letter continues to explain that if 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 the buffer tube…, removing the arm strap, or otherwise undermining its ability to be used as a brace, and in fact shoots the firearm from the shoulder using the accessory as a shoulder stock, that person has objectively ‘redesigned’ the firearm for purposes of the NFA.”
Remember all of the hub bub about shouldering the Sig Brace? It appears those days are over. ATF states that an NFA firearm has not necessarily been made when the device is not re-configured for use as a shoulder stock, even if it happens to be fired from the shoulder.
So what’s the bottom line? The part you guys will like is probably summed up best in the next paragraph. “To the extent the January 2015 Open Letter implied or has been construed to hold that incidental, sporadic, or situational “use” of an arm-brace equipped firearm from a firing position at or near the shoulder was sufficient to constitute a “redesign”, such interpretations are incorrect and not consistent with ATF’s interpretation of the statute or manner in which it has historically been enforced.” However, it is important to note that the brace must be in its original approved configuration. In simple terms, merely shouldering the brace provided you did not modify it, does not constitute the manufacture of a short barreled rifle.
Now you can all rejoice and buy more braces without fear of being prosecuted for incidentally, sporadically or situationally shouldering an arm braced equipped firearm, provided you did not modify the brace. At least according to this letter.
Hopefully that gives you a better understanding of ATF’s clarification to its interpretation. If you guys liked this episode, you know what to do, hit that like button and share it around with your friends. Have a question you want answered on this show, head over to The Legal Brief section on theguncollective.com. Do not forget to check out my website Adamkraut.com. and as always, don’t forget to like The Gun Collective on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Full 30, Snap Chat and wherever else you can catch us on social media.
And of course thanks for watching!
Links for this episode:
ATF Letter to SB Tactical Regarding Clarification
- ATF Open Letter Regarding Stabilizing Braces : https://princelaw.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/open_letter_on_the_redesign_of_stabilizing_braces.pdf
- Original Determination Letter with Sig Brace : https://princelaw.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/atfsig.gif
- Joe Bradley Letter : https://princelaw.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/joe-bradley-letter.jpg
Definition of Firearm
- Gun Control Act – 18 USC 921(a)(7) : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/921
- GCA Regulation – 27 CFR 478.11 : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/478.11
- National Firearms Act – 26 USC 5845(c) : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/5845
- NFA Regulation – 27 CFR 479.11 : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/479.11
- Make – 26 U.S.C. § 5845(i) : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/5845
- Make – 27 CFR 479.11 : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/479.11
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