Rep. Gaetz: ‘ATF Must Stop Abusing Authority’ on Pistol Arm Braces

Q Honey Badger Pistol with SB Tactical Brace IM Q Instagram
Q Honey Badger Pistol with SB Tactical Brace IM Q Instagram

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.”

REP. MATT GAETZ
Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz has been joined by several colleagues in a letter demanding ATF ‘immediately cease” abusing its authority relating to pistol braces and classifying pistols as “short-barreled rifles” if they have such attachments.

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.

“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:

  1. What specific criteria does ATF use to determine whether a firearm is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder?
  2. What specific ATF publications are available for Americans to determine whether their firearm is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder?
  3. 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




About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com 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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Deplorable Bill
Deplorable Bill
13 days ago

Any law that is repugnant to the constitution, the bill of rights or the amendments is null and void. Mulberry vs Madison is a case that was decided by the supreme court that said and decided exactly that. Therefore the atfe is wrong, criminal to the point of TYRANNY and TREASON. Our RIGHTS and FREEDOMS are written into law so that evil people are criminal if/when they delay or deny them. Our forefathers had seen first hand government overreach and tyranny. GOD given RIGHTS are exactly that, GOD given, thus unchangeable by mankind. Thus the atfe, their lawyers, their courts… Read more »

Ansel Hazen
Ansel Hazen
14 days ago

Forget writing letters to the ATF As we can see they ignore the will of the PEOPLE. Gaetz and Co. should take this directly to Trump and demand he end this foolishness. BEFORE the election.

PS would be nice to send him an email but his congressional website doesn’t accept anyone from outside district 1.

Last edited 14 days ago by Ansel Hazen
Mike11C
Mike11C
14 days ago

I love alcohol, tobacco, and firearms but, not “the bureau of”.

Random71
Random71
14 days ago
Reply to  Mike11C

Should be a chain of convenience stores……

George
George
14 days ago

Like the bump stock ban, this transcends gun laws, but the anti-gun community probably won’t even hear about it. If this stands, then an agency can turn a previously-legal device into something that can make you a felon overnight. That should scare people.

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
14 days ago

Knives don’t treaten tyrants with machine guns and Dillion Aero SUV’s. But full auto does. Having an armed citizenry does. If enough citizens were to start acting out the writings of “The War of The Flea”, those in the government would be concerned to say the least for their own safety. And then there was the way Henry Bowman in the historical novel, Unintended Consequences took care of the ATF. OUCH!

Don
Don
15 days ago

There should be no restrictions on guns or ammo. But since there is, I think Q pushed the envelope with this “brace”. The brace is over-built and has become a stock. It is not a good brace for use as intended. ATF looked at the middle finger Q was giving them and took action. The entire NFA needs to be scrapped.

nod
nod
15 days ago
Reply to  Don

I agree with the fact there should be no such thing as a short barrel rifle or a short barrel shotgun. People should be free to use what works best for them.

Core
Core
15 days ago

Congressman Gaetz et al, Kudos for taking quick action in the matter! The ATF has unconstitutional authority over Arms for US Citizens and they need to be defunded, dismantled, and discharged via Article VI. Their purpose was to regulate international trade of alcohol, tobacco, arms, and explosives. Their purpose was never intended to have pre don umbrella powers over citizens right to bear arms. Arms features and accessories all fall under Bill of Right exclusion protections and guarantee: no persons within ATF should ever have the authority to tell any citizens what they can and cannot do regarding their ownership… Read more »

Mudhunter
Mudhunter
15 days ago

This maybe a good start to rectifying this particular issue, but there is also the trap that exists in assuming ATF has any constitutional authority to even think up minor infractions against rights and the constitution that protects them, AKA infringements. We must be even more broadminded than this one effort to protect a particular group of gun owners and manufacturers, and take a foundational view of the whole body of law and bureaucracy in Washington D.C. By what authority did Congress pass the NFA, GCA and myriad limitations on guns? By what authority does ATF exist and get funded?… Read more »

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
15 days ago

The “law making” body of Congress and the Senate should simply REPEAL the BS about “Short barrel rifles” as well as the majority if not ALL of the UNCONSTITUTIONAL 1934 and 1968 theft of 2nd amendment rights acts. How does the BARREL length of ANYTHING determine it’s value as a weapon? It shouldn’t matter in the least. What should matter is WHAT it is used for. NO VICTIM, NO CRIME. WE THE JURY FIND THE DEFENDANT NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES YOUR “HONOR”. NO VICTIM, NO CRIME. PERIOD.

Finnky
Finnky
15 days ago
Reply to  CourageousLion

Barrel length effects velocity, thus impacting effectiveness of a firearm. Maybe if grabbers understood that, they would seek an upper limit on length rather than lower limit.

In addition to violating the constitution, these laws are nonsense.

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
15 days ago
Reply to  Finnky

You are correct. In reality a pistol is a lot less deadly then a rifle. Gun grabbers don’t use reason, logic and common sense. They think with the area of their rear end that most of us sit on.

Camotim
Camotim
15 days ago

DEFUND ATF!!!

Quatermain
Quatermain
14 days ago
Reply to  Camotim

Arrest and charge them, rather.

uncle dudley
uncle dudley
15 days ago

These policy wonks are idiots, what difference does it make whether a gun is shoulder fired or held in the hand and has a brace, it’s a gun and under the law if it’s not an automatic firing gun it should be legal without any special overpriced license or fee.
The people are being screwed by unelected officials and I think the congressman from Florida, Mr. Gaetz is one of the few who believes in the rights granted to the citizens by the constitution and bill of rights.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
15 days ago
Reply to  uncle dudley

I said the same exact thing yesterday. It’s all BS. Nothing in the constitution says what kind of firearm we can or cannot have including fully auto.

Random71
Random71
15 days ago
Reply to  musicman44mag

The usage of the word militia implies arms of military usefulness. So anything legal under the treaties on the laws of land warfare, that this country is a signatory of.

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
15 days ago
Reply to  uncle dudley

So Uncle…are you telling me that IF THERE WERE NO CONSTITUTION that we citizens wouldn’t have any rights? That these rights are “granted” by the Constitution? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! The FOUNDING DOCUMENT would have me believe otherwise. Do you know what document that is? You know, the one that mentions UNALIENABLE rights to LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS?? Surely if I have a right to my LIFE I have the right to use WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY TO PROTECT IT, up and to the use of an APACHE HELICOPTER if need be. RIGHTS don’t come… Read more »

Random71
Random71
15 days ago
Reply to  CourageousLion

@CourageousLion I regret that I only have one like to give.

Tionico
Tionico
15 days ago
Reply to  uncle dudley

under the law if it’s not an automatic firing gun it should be legal without any special overpriced license or fee. he law is wrong… full auto firing firerams are weapons “of military usefulness” as a class, and thus included in those guaranteed us to possess free of any infringements. End the BS and make ATF go away, or at least complywith the law. That being the Second Articld of Ammendment. shall not be infringed means precisel that. HOW can we lean onMr. Trump todump this witch “acting director” of that illegally existing BATF? FedGov have NO AUTHORITY to meddle… Read more »

Finnky
Finnky
15 days ago
Reply to  uncle dudley

Why do you have something against machine guns? I may not have a use for one, or even want one – but I NEED the right to have as many as I can afford. That would be new manufacture at affordable price based on manufacturing cost rather than artificially inflated prices we currently see.

gregs
gregs
15 days ago

rights as such are not subject to governmental control. and when a right is challenged in court, only the strictest level of scrutiny should be used to curtail that right. no other amendment in the Bill of Rights has been more regulated than the Second Amendment. authoritarian bureaucratic governmental officials who are not elected nor held accountable to the ballot box should not be allowed to write laws, period.
unjust laws can and should be violated, just as our rights are being violated by these faceless tyrants.

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
15 days ago
Reply to  gregs

Not “regulated”, VIOLATED. The first HALF of it is totally ignored. “They” made sure we couldn’t resist as a BODY by doing away with those first 13 words. The ONLY PLACE in the Constitution the word NECESSARY is used. So I would imagine the FF thought the MILITIA was NECESSARY. Do you think?

Tionico
Tionico
15 days ago
Reply to  CourageousLion

the FF thought the MILITIA was NECESSARY. Do you think?

this is true ONLY WHEN we define “milita” as “the whole of the people, armed and treined”. And THAT is why that Second Article of Ammendment reserves the right to arms TOTHE PEOPLE, the whole people. , then tells government HANDS OFF. And that means government at an level.

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
15 days ago
Reply to  Tionico

@Tionico. The definition of the militia was defined back in the day exactly as you just wrote. And the problem is we can have the right to keep and bear the arms, but “They” don’t want us to have militias as intended because they just might be a problem to their tyrannical bull crap edicts. The militia as founded actually could convene grand juries and have trials for TRAITORS if need be. So if your local asshat politician wanted to violate his oath of office he would put himself/herself in jeopardy of being tried and caged or better yet executed… Read more »

Tionico
Tionico
15 days ago
Reply to  CourageousLion

The First Article of Ammendmentalso priovides that gummit keep their grubs off our RIGHT to freely associate. Given that every man has the RIGHT to arms, and ALSO has the RIGHT to freely associate, an ettempt to prohibit, limit, banish, etc, militia or similar “associations” is as unconstitutoinal as limits on our right to arms. There is NO way to massage the concept and legality of militia out of existence. And no,National Guard, and State militlas are NOT “the local militia.” Few people realise that once Paul Revere and Billy Dawes laft Dr. Warren’s office in north Boston, at about… Read more »

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
14 days ago
Reply to  Tionico

Excellent post about history. And it is so TRUE. If we HAD the first 13 words being utilized do you think that the ATF would even be ABLE to exist?

Baldwin
Baldwin
15 days ago

“they will know it when they see it”.

Well, I know tyranny when I see it.

Country Boy
Country Boy
15 days ago

we need to know the names and faces of the anti american people at the ATF who instigated this travesty against th 2nd A and the American people

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
15 days ago
Reply to  Country Boy

Hmmmm…and maybe their addresses and work schedules.

Mike Crognale
Mike Crognale
15 days ago

It’s obvious that the ATF anti-Trumpers are anticipating a Biden win. They are laying the foundation for the coming bans.

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
15 days ago
Reply to  Mike Crognale

They should be buying bullet proof head gear as well as the rest of the body if they are laying the foundation for any bans. Because they will need them BADLY.

StreetSweeper
StreetSweeper
15 days ago

RoyD is absolutely correct. I expect they will rule birds-head grips on firearms like the Shockwave will be reclassified as short-barreled shotguns next. I do hope Congress pursues this with vigor and reigns in these unelected bureaucrats; better yet, disband the BATF and repeal the GCA.

Cruiser
Cruiser
15 days ago
Reply to  Dave Workman

Shame on any Gun Owner who votes Democrat!

RoyD
RoyD
15 days ago

This is no different than what they did with bump stocks. I don’t GAF what they do.

Finnky
Finnky
15 days ago
Reply to  RoyD

– You should GAF. Your continued freedom may depend upon what they say. At the very least, try to learn so you know when to conceal which arms.
I don’t expect you to comply, might even be disappointed if you did.

RoyD
RoyD
15 days ago
Reply to  Finnky

I have one plain jane AR-15. I have no suppressors or other items which would be easy to demonize. Unless you want to count magazines holding over 10 rounds. That I do have plenty of and those were a target 25 years ago. The bottom line is I just don’t care what they do. If it’s bad enough the people will speak and if speaking isn’t enough then they’ll do something else to rectify the situation. I, like most everyone else, don’t want the Rubicon crossed. But, if it is, then game on.

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
15 days ago
Reply to  RoyD

HAAAAAA…the “Rubicon” was crossed at WACO and RUBY RIDGE at the very least.

RoyD
RoyD
14 days ago
Reply to  CourageousLion

Oh, I am pretty sure most would consider me to have been “personally affected” by both those crimes. And I personally know hundreds of others who were “personally affected” also. “Go sell crazy somewhere else, we’re full up around here!”

Last edited 14 days ago by RoyD
jack mac
jack mac
15 days ago
Reply to  Finnky

The ATF does exactly what our governing desires. It is our governing that does not GAF about private citizens. All those desiring to be free full citizens will need to stop GAF about edicts. Compliance is irrelevant as all are subject to subjugation into the prohibited person underclass.