Remember That Time ATF Suddenly Withdrew Guidance on Stabilizing Braces!?

ATF Leadership 2020 Acting Director Regina Lombardo & Associate Deputy Director Marvin Richardson
ATF Leadership 2020 Acting Director Regina Lombardo & Associate Deputy Director Marvin Richardson

U.S.A.-( Guidance on what constitutes  “stabilizing braces” was published by the ATF on 18 December 2020. The guidance seemed less than objective, with a “we will know it when we see it” quality.

Back on December 23rd, of 2020 in a dramatic reversal, the deputy director of the ATF Marvin RIchardson, signed a withdrawal of the guidance, only five days after the guidance was published. The guidance was withdrawn pending further Department of Justice review. Here is the concluding paragraph from’s document:

Upon further consultation with the Department of Justice and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, ATF is withdrawing, pending further Department of Justice review, the notice and request for comments entitled “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with ‘Stabilizing Braces’,” that was published on December 18, 2020. 85 FR 82516. As explained in the notice, the proposed guidance was not a regulation. The notice informed and invited comment from the industry and public on a proposed guidance prior to issuing a final guidance document.

The withdrawal of the guidance does not change any law, regulation, or other legally binding requirement.


December 23, 2020                    Marvin G. Richardson

                                            Associate Deputy Director

It seems the Department of Justice (DOJ) was reminding the ATF who is the Boss. There was previous guidance from the DOJ to the ATF, not to change regulations without checking with the DOJ first.

Some might have interpreted this slap on the wrist by the DOJ as a reminder of the official pecking order, chain of command, hierarchical structure.

The ATF could have held off on these announcements for a couple of months. It is difficult to see where it would have made much difference, in all the smoke, confusion, and drama ongoing with the stolen election at that time. It is unlikely they would have gained or lost any points in the Biden/Harris, by simply waiting for a bit.

As someone who worked in various bureaucracies for over 30 years, the ATF has not impressed with its lack of strategic planning, or even a simple understanding of how to play the bureaucratic game in Washington, D.C.

Bureaucracies seldom lose by doing nothing.

Most ATF agents I have met have been diligent, honorable types trying to do a reasonable job premised on a dubious Constitutional basis.

ATF leadership has not had as good a reputation.

In the ATF’s defense, Congress has refused to appoint certain, strong, leadership to the top of this troubled bureau. Because of the Constitutional controversy built into the ATF mission, it is caught in a situation where whatever it does will be examined under a microscope.

In addition to the inherent tension with the Second Amendment, the firearms mission of the ATF, based on the 1934 National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act of 1968, are a maze of illogical and contradictory policies. Those contradictions and irrationalities have been highlighted by the Heller and McDonald Supreme Court decisions.

The DOJ may have been trying to regain a bit of its tattered and soiled reputation ahead of the Biden takeover.

The Obama administration, with its outright criminality and coverup of the IRS, Gunrunning, Chinese corruption, and refusal to honor congressional subpoenas; followed by the multiple coups against President Trump and ignoble lack of action by first AG Sessions, then what appears to be a “wait out the clock” strategy by AG Barr, leaves half of the American electorate with strong and justified suspicions of any actions by the DOJ.

One result of the withdrawal of guidance is the enhanced paper trail of waffling on the issue by the executive branch.

It makes it harder for the ATF to claim it is enforcing obvious law, or that any citizen would be able to determine what the law is on any day.

When the law is unclear, courts are supposed to rule in favor of the citizen, against the government. This bizarre-bureaucratic-reversal was just more proof of incompetence and confusion and worthy of this second look.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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The above post should be read by every Republican politician in the country. Either don’t enforce technical violations of the NFA of 1934 or just give people a ticket and tell them to get compliant. Meanwhile, work to repeal the parts of the NFA of 1934 that have to do with the size and loudness of guns/accessories. Concurrent with that effort, put together logical arguments using data and math to focus LE effort on violent crimes. Arrest them, convict them, incarcerate them, and don’t let them out early. Finally, quit avoiding the discussion about the root cause of a large… Read more »

Roland T. Gunner

Repeal ALL the NFA and GCA. None of it is necessary or founded on logic. Not just suppressor and sbr/sbs portions.


Odds of that happening are zero.


“Most ATF agents I have met have been diligent, honorable types trying to do a reasonable job”

Either you have not met many BATFE agents, or something else.


History, if nothing else, proves this out. They were considered the bottom of the Federal LEO barrel by the rest.


I can only imagine.


Former LEO who worked closely with various alphabet soup agencies… none of us liked, trusted, or wanted to work with local ATF…


then it would seem thatt he judges that try their cases must have come from a separate clss of people, not well enough connected with the rest of gummit to heavily mistrust ALL BATF agents. I know of a nuumber of ATF cases where the trials were so dirty it seemed the judge was an inside plant. No end to their conniving, lying, false evicdence, withheld evidence, etc. and the judges just laid back and let it all happen.


They must have sent all the bad ones to Ruby Ridge and Waco.




I didn’t have to dig very deep did I?


If we help republicans take back our gov. in 2022 and 2024, we MUST demand they lift and remove all 2A infringements as FIRST course of business, AND pass Nationwide Constitutional Carry & Reciprocity. Failure to do that should result in getting every one of them primaried.. and in the mean time, between now and then, current Rino’s must be primaried now at every opportunity. Can you hear me Collins, Murkowski, Romney


I’m still curious about their standing on the SBA3 pistol brace. If I’m at the range with mine, can an atf agent decide it’s grounds for arrest?


Not at this time. Well, yes, no, maybe. That’s the problem, no one has a definitive answer. But I think you’re good for the time being.


“He has erected Office and sent out a multitude of officers to harass us and eat out our existence!”
It seems nothing changes!


Yup. King George, King Lyndo, King William, King Barry, JKing Joey…….. I’ve left quite a few out for the sake of brevity but y’all y’all get the picture. One more KodakMoment to cherish forever, right? I bought my first rifle when I was 16, walked into Pete’sGun Store in a small town in a state where I did not even live, never have. Picked it out, paid down my money, and walked out. He only knew my first name because we were on a very friendly basis. NO surname no ID no prrof of anything but the dead green presidents… Read more »


My first rifle was a brand new 10-22. Bought at Western Auto. No, ILLEGAL MY I PERMISSION was needed from OUR Government —- Only the permission before hand from my father! One BETTER HEED DAD’S RULES!!!

Roland T. Gunner

Mordita? Is that like baksheesh?

Roland T. Gunner

If all those “dilligent, honorable types” over at ATF, and all the others like them would refuse to do that dishonorable agency’s dishonorable mandate, the problem would go away. Oh, and that Marvin Richardson character looks like his ancestors spent way too much time inbreeding. Typical unqualified, bureaucrat idiot cousin given a political position.


Many of them would follow any order, no matter how heinous (as they have already proven), to keep their job. Republican politicians should demand the agents receive training from the private sector on what orders should not be followed. They should also be required to take training from the private sector on the proper procedure for conducting investigations. For example, if they approach a non-government employee and ask the person to spy on another nongovernment employee and that person says “no,” the proper BATFE response should be “ok.” After that, they should leave that person alone and never contact him… Read more »


After the “charlie foxtrot” at Waco, rumor had it that internal Clinton administration discussions on closing down ATF revealed that 1. most of ATF’s personnel were covered by civil service protections therefore could not be simply laid off, and 2. were regarded as trigger happy rule breaking cowboys by other federal law enforcement who were reluctant to provide a home for any ex-ATF surplus personnel. So the idea of closing down ATF was quietly dropped.


It wouldn’t surprise me.

Civil servants can be fired – it just takes some work. In the meantime, they could be given a job that doesn’t include a firearm, arrest powers, or interacting with the public.

Just put them all in a big room with coloring books.


no colouring books. That simply rewards their useleness. Set them to lumpong bins of mail at a Post Office sorting station, or sifting throgh and catalogueing surplus government property for resale to the public, or maybe as a janitor at a government courthouse or office building. Still employed by da gummit, right?

Last edited 2 years ago by Tionico

Some of my mail is important to me.




As I remember there was talk about shutting down the ATF and shifting it’s duties to the F.B.I. which would have required transferring ATF agents into the F.B.I. or finding them something else to do and hiring new F.B.I. agents. It’s hard to believe that anyone could think that changing a few alphabet letters would solve anything. I once had a very knowledgeable judge magistrate tell me that ATF agents were just F.B.I. wannabes that couldn’t make the grade.

Roland T. Gunner

Right, but who gave the other alphabet agencies a choice?


then do away with the “civil service protectioins”. What OTHER sector guaratnees a lifetime of employment no matter HOW useless, incompetent, crooked, corrupt, domineering, etc, the guy is?
At least change it so when one of those “pwesshis” “servants” clearly violates their own rules (such as bringing in a portable scanner and laptop and scanning the pages of an FFL’s Bound Book, which HAS happened) that violation should be reported to district, tand the offender fired “for cause”. But when has THAT ever happened?


“Waco happened because of Ruby Ridge.”

That was partly it but I think, based on what I have learned, that it was more a case of showing the “new boss”, Clinton, that they were his boys.

I am going to tell you all something I haven’t told but a few people. What happened at Waco, and Ruby Ridge, almost pushed me over the edge. Only by the grace of God did it not. Even now I have to handle the topic at arms length. So now you know how much it affected me.


I appreciate your comments on the matter. From what you have said a couple times (certainly not asking you to say any more), it must have been distressing. We will never know the exact dynamics of why things happened (since so many government employees lied), or even the details of what happened (since so much evidence was stolen and destroyed). It certainly makes sense they were trying to show some kind of weird allegiance to Clinton. They were also concerned after their screw-up at Ruby Ridge that legislators might find the entire organization both redundant and a dangerous liability. The… Read more »


Some government employees spend an unbelievable amount of time writing commendations about others and seeking commendations from others. The old one hand washes the other thing. With enough kudos they hope to gain ” instep grade increases” giving them pay,promotion and perk increases. These activities are continuous throughout the federal government and everything it touches. Before Clinton became the “new boss” in D.C., he was the old boss in Arkansas. While governor there, a few alphabet agencies operated a drug and weapon smuggling operation in Mena which set them at odds with other alphabet agencies. Bill Clinton was well aware… Read more »

Roland T. Gunner

Barry Sadler?


These two, and MANY more, unelected bureaucrats are working in an ILLEGALLY FORMED BUREAUCRACY that is making, what is considered law, was CREATED UNLAWFULLY by the “head” of the IRS. \
FYI: Congress IS the ONLY “BODY” in OUR government that CAN CREATE LAWS!!! Since CONGRESS did NOT create the ATF / BATF / ATFE / BATFE this “body” of bureaucrats IS ILLEGAL and MUST BE SHUT-DOWN, DECOMMISSIONED, CANNED, DISMISSED, ETC. — NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I worked for DEA and WE did not trust atf, was involved in an incident where a atf agent acting as a gun dealer had a trunk full of guns and ammo he was taking to restricted area at mia ,the set up was two cars they ran him into the truck I was driving with a stolen delivery truck ,two blocking cars people got out popped trunk police siren they all got in cars and took off dade county police range was close by two off duty police saw the accident and intervened, in the trunk of the car… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by swmft

B.S. No ATF agent would write like a third grader.