U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-1st District) has sent a pair of scathing letters (embeded below and worth the read) to Attorney General William Bar and Acting Director Regina Lombardo at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), demanding a halt to the agency’s effort to restrict “the possession of certain pistol braces by American citizens.”
Gaetz was joined by six House colleagues—Reps. Bill Posey, W. Gregory Steube, John Rutherford, Ted S. Yoho, Neal P. Dunn, MD, and Daniel Webster—in a June 16 letter critical of what appears to be ATF’s “practice of relying on arbitrary, non-public standards to promulgate general firearms policy hidden from public scrutiny and awareness.”
Pistol arm braces were developed to provide more stability for people using AR-15-type semiauto pistols. They have become popular accessories, with more than 2 million+ sold to gun owners, according to the June 16th, 2020 letter.
As far back as 2012, the letter notes, “ATF initially welcomed the advent of pistol arm braces” and at the time “correctly determined that the attachment of arm braces to large pistol platforms does not constitute the manufacture of a short-barreled rifle.”
However, that position appears to have changed, and Gaetz is on the warpath, taking to Twitter and Facebook to alert gun owners across the country.
“Despite initially welcoming the introduction of pistol arm braces,” the June 16 letter states, “it has come to our attention that ATF is now attempting to restrict some of the most popular arm brace configurations by creating non-public standards that are not based in statute or regulation. For example, in determining whether an item is an arm brace or stock, ATF has, through rivate letters, created an inexhaustive list of what it considers ‘objective design features.’ With no basis in law, one of the ‘indicators’ chosen to make these determinations is ‘length of pull,’ which is the distance from the rear of the stabilizing brace to the trigger.
In June, my colleagues and I sent a letter to the ATF demanding they stop crafting secret rules restricting the possession of pistol braces by American citizens.
I sent a follow-up letter yesterday after receiving no response. The ATF must stop abusing its enforcement authority. pic.twitter.com/HBm0N1YaFH
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 30, 2020
“Unbeknownst to the general public,” the letter adds, “ATF has ordained in private determination letters that it considers ‘any firearm with a ‘length of pull’ over 13 ½ inches to be designed to be fired from the shoulder,’ thereby making it a short-barreled rifle.”
In their June 16 letter, Gaetz and his colleagues pose three specific questions to the Attorney General and the Acting Director:
- What specific criteria does ATF use to determine whether a firearm is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder?
- What specific ATF publications are available for Americans to determine whether their firearm is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder?
- How many firearms with affixed arm braces have been evaluated by the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division in support of other law enforcement agencies or criminal prosecutions?
When that letter was apparently not even acknowledged, Gaetz, Posey, Yoho, and Steube sent a second letter, dated Sept. 29, to Barr and Lombardo, in which they expressed encouragement that the Justice Department had made efforts “to temper ATF’s rogue agenda of criminalizing firearms affixed with arm braces,” they allege the agency “has decided to pursue, in secret, a ‘workaround’ to DOJs countermeasures that is hostile to citizens’ Second Amendment right and to due process.”
The letter further alleges ATF “is now exploiting its criminal enforcement powers to threaten small business owners around the country into complying with made-up and shifting criteria for determining the difference between a pistol and a short-barreled rifle.”
The second letter asked for a response to questions raised in the June 16 letter “no later than Friday, October 9.”
At issue is the ATF’s recent classification of the Honey Badger pistol, produced by Q, LLC in Portsmouth, NH, as a short-barreled rifle. In an Aug. 3 “Cease and Desist” letter to the company, ATF advised Q, LLC, “The Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) examined the Honey Badger Pistol manufactured and marketed by Q, LLC and determined the firearm is a short-barreled rifle as defined under the NFA. A short-barreled rifle is subject to the registration, transfer, taxation, and possession restrictions regarding these regulated firearms, which include criminal penalties relating to the illegal transfer and possession of said firearms.”
There was more bad news in the ATF letter. The agency also said two other models marketed by Q, LLC—the “Sugar Weasel” and “Mini Fix”—“are designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder and may be classified as a short-barreled rifle under the GCA and NFA.” The company immediately advised its Honey Badger customers.
SB Tactical, a firm that produces pistol arm braces, has declared its support for Q, LLC. In a prepared statement, SB Tactical said it “is disappointed by the recent ATF actions in classifying their Honey Badger™ pistol as a short-barreled rifle. This classification is based on a seemingly arbitrary set of criteria and promises to create unnecessary confusion and anxiety amongst millions of legal gun owners and the industry as a whole.”
“The ATF is saying, in part, that they will not evaluate an accessory as a stand-alone product,” SB Tactical’s statement continues, “but that the characteristics of the entire firearm influence their decision. Characteristics such as optics chosen, magazine capacity, how the gun is marketed, or length of pull will “holistically” determine a firearm’s NFA classification. Moreover, the ATF has, to date, refused to clarify or state what characteristics define a Pistol Stabilizing Brace®. They have stated that “they will know it when they see it”.
“This arbitrary approach is creating confusion and uncertainty for millions of law-abiding citizens,” SB Tactical asserts, “manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers. SB Tactical is the inventor of the Pistol Stabilizing Brace and is deeply committed to our customers, the Second Amendment, and the rule of law. The ATF’s approach is unfair and unlawful.”
Jumping into the fray is the California-based Firearms Policy Coalition. They sent a letter to Barr, Lombardo and ATF Associate Deputy Director Marvin Richardson hinting at possible legal action if the agency doesn’t reverse course. That letter may be read here.
In their follow-up letter, the four congressmen “again request that ATF immediately cease abusing its enforcement authority by threatening law-abiding small business owners and the now estimated 3-4 million Americans who own firearms equipped with arm braces.”
“These devices are widely used by many Americans,” the letter adds, “and they are particularly popular among veterans—especially veterans with service-connected disabilities. For these men and women to have served our nation, and then to be arbitrarily deprived of their constitutional rights, is shameful, unconscionable, and wrong.”
U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz Follow Up Letter Regarding ATF September 2020
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