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A few days ago, Robert and the rest of the internet was all up in a tizzy about the possibility that the ATF has “reversed” its decision on the SB-15 pistol arm brace. In reality they simply had read the letter wrong, and I think I did a good job putting them to rights. Now a new ATF letter has come out regarding a different pistol brace accessory, and the language of that letter is consistent with the previous letters and confirms that what really matters is the intent of the person manufacturing the firearm. But while that’s all good, there might be some storm clouds on the horizon if I’m reading this right . . .

Before we begin, let me just re-iterate that I am not a lawyer. The following does not constitute legal advice. ATF FTB letters are not binding legal documents, and the views expressed within them are valid for the recipient of that letter only. Any conclusions drawn from these letters are pure conjecture and may not be accurate. However, after consulting with experts in the field and actual lawyers, I think I have enough information to shed some light on what is going on.

PrinceLaw has the letters and was the first to publish them, and it appears that Thordsen Defense is the manufacturer in question. They have designed a buffer tube cover intended to provide a cheek weld for people firing an AR-15 pistol, and with the recent confusion about the SB-15 brace and its legality they wanted the ATF to give their blessing. In essence, Thordsen’s device is pretty much identical to the SB-15 in terms of the legal facts — it was designed to let people fire AR-15 pistols more comfortably, but not to make a stock. The reply from the ATF is exactly in-line with every other letter we have seen to date. From the ATF’s letter:

The receiver extension/buffer tube on an AR-type pistol serves a legitimate, vital function in the operation of the weapon system; and if utilized as originally designed is not considered to be a shoulder stock. Further, a pistol that has an AR-t1pe buffer tube or similar component assembled to it, which consequently allows for the installation of a saddle/cheek enhancement accessory, is not classified as a SBR; nor unlawful to possess.

However, if a pistol assembled with an AR-type buffer tube or similar component; which in tum, redesigns the subject AR-type pistol to be designed or redesigned and consequently intended to be fired from the shoulder; an NFA weapon as defined in 26 U.S.C. $ 58a5(a)(3); has been made.

There are two very crucial facts that the ATF is pointing out here, and they do so in an extremely clear manner. I just want to make sure we are all on the same page, so let me expound on them a little bit.

First and foremost, the difference between a pistol and an SBR is all about intent. Let’s go back to the legal definition of a pistol real quick. Under the National Firearms Act (NFA), 27 C.F.R. § 479.11, “pistol” is defined as:

… a weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having (a) a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s); and (b) a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand and at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).

Note the use of the words “designed, made, and intended.” In order for the definition to be met and the item to be a pistol, all three of those conditions must be met. It must be originally designed to be fired with one hand. It must be made according to that design. And finally, no matter what the design, it must be intended to be used as a pistol from day one.

In the case of the SB-15 (and whatever Thordsen Defense cooked up), the device satisfies the first two requirements in and of itself. The item is designed and made to allow someone to fire a pistol using one hand, and their intent is pretty clear thanks to the letters and statements they have made. Moving forward to the original manufacturers of AR pistols with the devices pre-installed, the three requirements are met on their end as well. SIG SAUER, for example, designed, manufactured, and intended their SB-15 equipped AR pistols to be fired with one hand and not from the shoulder. Because the three requirements are met from the factory, end users are welcome to do whatever they want with the finished product. The key is that in that case, the manufacturer’s intent is what matters when the firearm was originally created.

Some of you may have figured out the possible looming storm cloud already. For those of you who still don’t see it, let me ask you this: what about if you manufactured the firearm instead of SIG SAUER?

Let’s re-visit the land of legal mumbo-jumbo and look up the definition of “make” in terms of NFA devices.

The term “make”, and the various derivatives of such word, shall include manufacturing (other than by one qualified to engage in such business under this chapter), putting together, altering, any combination of these, or otherwise producing a firearm.

When normal people think about “manufacturing” a firearm, usually a CNC machine or at least a drill press is involved in the process. The common sense definition of “manufacturing” something means taking it from the raw materials and building it into the finished item. However, for the purposes of the National Firearms Act, the act of “manufacturing” a firearm can be as simple as swapping out an upper receiver on an AR-15. If you put together or alter a firearm in any way from the original design specs, you are now the “manufacturer.”

This is where it gets sticky, and where the ATF might be trying to weasel its way towards prosecuting someone for improperly using an SB-15.

If someone manufactures an AR pistol using an SB-15 or some other stock-esque device (remember, the definition of “manufacture” is incredibly broad in this sense) AND the ATF can prove that their intent was to fire the firearm from the shoulder like a rifle, then the firearm is no longer a “pistol” because it no longer meets the definition. That point is illustrated in the ATF letter in that second paragraph above:

However, if a pistol assembled with an AR-type buffer tube or similar component; which in tum, redesigns the subject AR-type pistol to be designed or redesigned and consequently intended to be fired from the shoulder; an NFA weapon as defined in 26 U.S.C. $ 58a5(a)(3); has been made. [emphasis added]

Confused? I thought so. Let me illustrate it a little better.

Say we have two budding firearms enthusiasts, Johnny and Jamie. They both think the idea of a pistol AR with an SB-15 brace is a great idea, so they each buy all the necessary parts and build two identical SB-15 equipped AR pistols. Because they assembled the firearms, under the NFA they are now the “manufacturer.” Johnny posts some pictures of his new pistol on Reddit, with the title “Look at my cool new pistol!” Jamie posts a YouTube rant about how he out-smarted the ATF and got an SBR without the paperwork.

Johnny and Jamie are out at the range firing their new AR pistols from their shoulder (like a rifle) when the ATF rolls up and arrests them both.

In Johnny’s case, the ATF doesn’t really have anything. Johnny was the manufacturer of the firearm, but even though he was firing it from the shoulder there’s no proof that he intended to use it in that manner when he designed and made the firearm. In the United States, the Rule of Lenity comes into play at this point and requires that any ambiguity in the law (such as the intent of the manufacturer, that being Johnny) be resolved in the favor of the defendant. So even though the ATF can prove that Johnny was mis-using the SB-15 and that he was the manufacturer, they cannot prove that he intended to fire the firearm from his shoulder when he manufactured it and must assume that he intended to use it as a pistol. Therefore Johnny satisfies all three definitions of a pistol in his firearm and is good to go.

Jamie, on the other hand, is screwed. Because he posted a rant about how using the SB-15 was out-smarting the ATF, he has given the ATF proof that it was his intent to manufacture a short barreled rifle and not a pistol. Just like the previous ATF letter recipient who wrote a love note to the FTB saying that he wanted to build an SBR using the SB-15 brace, without that ambiguity there’s nothing for Jamie to argue and he gets thrown in the slammer.

My personal gut feeling is that this is the way the ATF is trying to move. They know that the barn door is wide open when it comes to the SB-15 brace, so they are looking for a poster child to prosecute and convict for building an illegal SBR with the brace. The problem is that this approach is extremely risky for all involved. To my mind there has only been one case where someone was put on trial for a technical violation of the National Firearms Act (some idiot put a vertical foregrip on a pistol) and the judge threw out the charge and called it ridiculous. If the same happens with the SB-15 and calling it an SBR, then those barn doors are edged just a little bit wider. On the other hand, if the ATF wins then it could kill the entire pistol brace market and send the AR-15 pistol back into the depths of uselessness from whence it came.

Stay tuned.

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96 Responses to New ATF Letter Confirms Pistol Brace Legality is All About Intent

  1. Lets be pro-active and gets some legal action going to get rid of the NFA and it’s arcane laws. NRA and SAF? I payed to be a life member for a reason.

    • Why have “we the people” allowed an un-elected bureaucracy to have the ability to make and interpreted law? On it’s face anything the BATFE “regulates” IS UN-Constitutional. Our parents laid down their freedom and we need to secure it back for our posterity. The BATFE is allowed to prosecute for “thought” crimes. The word “intent” is, by definition a product of a persons reasoning.
      Lastly, IF WE go by the BATFE’s definition of of a pistol, than we are all going to jail. Other than gangsta Rapper’s and street thugs, who the hell fires a pistol with one hand? Moronic and asinine! WAKE UP AMERICA! Take 5 min. Of your day and make a list regarding everything you have to do in your personal daily routine that requires some sort of State, Fed. Or Local Government approval. We are no longer the land of the free. We are the home of the tax SLAVES.

      • >> IF WE go by the BATFE’s definition of of a pistol, than we are all going to jail. Other than gangsta Rapper’s and street thugs, who the hell fires a pistol with one hand?

        It’s not the BATFE’s definition of the pistol – that definition is written into law (NFA). Yes, by elected representatives of the people.

        • The BATFE is an Un-elected bureaucracy that is allowed to make their own determinations as to what is and what is not a firearm. The NFA law is UN-Constitutional regardless of what the courts or the congress claims. The SUPREME Law of the land, “The US Constitution” is clear. The wording is clear in the 2nd Amendment. “Shall Not Be Infringes” in legal parlance. “Shall Not” is the strongest of all legal language. Thus the Government has no authority to even so much as arrive at the discussion of regulating arms. We The People have forgotten where the real sovereign power lies. The framers were clear on that too. The Supreme Law also says that if something is not SPECIFICALLY enumerated to the Fed. Gov’t. Than the authority lies with the People and the States. Over the past 200 years The Government has nudged and nudged and nudged in order to accumulate the power back from the people. We allowed them to slow boil us. We are at a crossroads in this country. You don’t have to look very far either. The pendulum is about to swing one way towards Tyranny or the other towards Liberty. The Federalist papers spell it out for us in how the framers came to the Constitution, yet we have judges look to foreign courts to help them make judicial rulings. This country has be bastardized! I for one will not kneel to the government and take it anymore.

        • I’m not disputing that ATF has way too much leeway under the standing law. Nevertheless, the part that you specifically referenced – the definition of pistol as “fired with one hand” – is not subject to ATF determination, but is specifically written into law.

        • I was thinking the same thing. I don’t remember the last time I fired a pistol, such as a Glock 21, 19, or Browning 9mm hi-power, using a single hand. YouTube search “police drawing pistol,” and the 3 cases on just the first page, where an officer has unholstered their weapon, they’re using 2 hands on all 3. Pictures of cops using tasers? Two hands. Speed radar guns? Two hands. When I trained in the military for use of a sidearm, as an officer deploying overseas? Trained to hold the pistol with 2 hands.

  2. Intent can be determined by the way an item is used. A “manufacturer” like Johnny can call his firearm anything he wants, but the way he uses it proves more than what he says about it.

    Consider this dialog after a different case. Johnny shoots Jimmy.

    Johnny: “It was an accident. My .38 just went off!”

    Detective Friendly: “Ten times?”

    What Johnny says is an obvious lie. The facts prove it.

    If Johnny manufactures a firearm and uses his brace as stock, his “brace” is a stock.

    It’s different for SIG and other manufacturers. They aren’t the end user and can’t make the end user behave in any particular way. SIG is off the hook.

    • So if I understand you correctly:
      Hypothetically:
      I buy an AR pistol with a Sig Brace fully assembled and don’t change a single part, not even the optics. I’m not the manufacturer. If my intent is to shoulder it, my intent shouldn’t matter and I’m legal.

      Hypothetically:
      I have an older AR pistol without a Sig Brace and decide to add one. I am the manufacturer. I have not publicly stated my intent, but it is to shoulder the thing like a rifle. An ATF agent sees me at the range and I now qualify for a 10-year vacation to Leavenworth, KS courtesy of the US tax payers.

      Is that correct?

      • I’m not sure about the penalty, but yes, your hypo is pretty much correct. There’s a difference between a user and a manufacturer. Anything can be used improperly, and the manufacturer is not on the hook if the user does something naughty.

    • So one should make a pistol with the plain buffer tube shoot it like that, post a pic or something of it being shot. Then put on your arm brace and shoot however you want.

  3. Is the recent “tactical fleshlight buffer tube attachment” approval letter going around too NSFW for TTAG, or is that simply too low hanging a fruit? (ha ha…fruit)

  4. Not a fan.

    The entire concept of constructive possession as well as 10-year minimum Federal prison sentence felonies for the layout of a firearm is extremely frustrating. I mean, we’re talking SERIOUS crimes for doing absolutely nothing violent or harming a soul. One step further and owning an AR-15 rifle and a hacksaw would be considered constructive possession of an SBR. Having an oil filter in your garage would be constructive possession of owning an unregistered silencer. Now they’ve defined something as a brace but only if the person “intends” to use it that way. You can purposefully misuse it as a stock but not if you got it in the first place to be a stock. You have to get it to be a brace or buy it from a company that assembled it as a brace and then you can use it as a stock just fine. It’s ridiculous. If I go to the hardware store wanting a hammer and I decide to buy a wrench with the sole intent of taking it home and using it as a hammer to drive a nail, it’s still a damn wrench. And why is a rifle with a 15.5″ barrel a 10-year felony when a rifle with a 16″ barrel isn’t? Who cares. It’s just an object. You haven’t done anything or harmed anyone because your rifle doesn’t comply dimensionally with what people in 1934 decided was appropriate. The whole country would be outraged if the government decided to ban cars capable of going over 90 mph. Instead, we choose to ticket or prosecute people who drive faster than the speed limit. Not limit the power and speed potential of vehicles and put people behind bars for 10 years just because they have a car technically capable of going fast, even if they never break the limit on public roads anyway.

    Ugh, whatever.

    • If you think NFA rulemaking is a fustercluck (which it is), try dealing with the EPA. It’s a pure, unadulterated nightmare.

      • The problem with either one is the authority of unelected bureaucrats to make life or death decisions on the basis of a whim. No evidence, no reasoning, just “I don’t like it” and you go to prison. Corruption, anyone?

    • Jeremy, I don’t know if you remember, but there was a time in the 70’s where they were wanting to ban cars from being able to go over a set speed either by design or inclusion of a governor. All in the name of saving the planet and our lives.

      Never underestimate the enemy.

      • More recent than that, in the past 5 years or so it became a Federal crime to remove a functioning catalytic converter from a motor vehicle. This due in small part to organized theft of catalytic converters where shops were recommending replacement and then selling perfectly good catalysts for the price of the precious metals contained inside them but also in a large part due to hot-rodders having shops build them converter deletes where they cut the converter out along with a section of pipe and then had band clamps welded on the ends of the section of pipe so that they could be quickly removed and replaced with a section of pipe or a more often resonator so that the car would at least pass visual inspection. Program out the rear O2 sensors and bingo, no more power robbing restrictive cats in the exhaust, every year pop the converters in for inspection and then back off they went once the new sticker was on the windshield.

        Also recently the Federal government ruled that diesel tuners were liable for violating the Clean Air Act for selling “Offroad Only” DPF delete kits, stating that the “Offroad Only” disclaimer wasnt sufficient when owners were clearly using DPF deletes on street driven vehicles.

        This is similar, and I predict that it will have similar consequences.

        • Yep. Remember both. I was being specific to mechanically limiting a car’s speed like they were talking when the put that stupid 55 speed limit in place.

          You’re right though. Nothing they would try would surprise me.

        • Yup, Tex. But the fact is that two different laws written differently often will — and should — have two different results.

      • Didn’t Deloreans come with a max speedometer reading of 70 MPH? I think they had to modify the one in Back to The Future because the default one wouldn’t even read 88 MPH.

        • That probably had more to do with the cars being past their useful acceleration range. Lots of cars back then were barely acceptable 0-60 but 60-80 was a long wait and 80-100 impossible for many. My TransAm came with an optional 140 mph speedo and the basic spedo only went to 85. Today I doubt you could find a compact car that reads less than 120, or a car that couldn’t break 100.

    • Trust me. Your frustration is rightly placed. Very few things left that we can do to bring this country back to its original founders “intent”…. See what I did there. Geez, I don’t know what it is, but I have learned to trust my gut. My gut is overflowing with un-easiness. I have talked to others that say they have the same sixth sense telling them something is off and something big is on the horizon.
      I don’t know what the future holds, call me a tin foil hate wearer, but something clicked for me in 2014 and I became a loony prepper and from what it seems, I am NOT alone.

  5. There may be another takeaway. It could well be that there are two sides at the ATF. Those who are trying to be reasonable and the beaureacratic power freaks. I’ve dealt with the same in my frequent work with FDA.

    If so, the message could well be one of, “we’re trying to help here, so keep your mouth shut. Otherwise, the tools in the next cubicle are going to go bat-excrement on you.”

    On the one hand, I’m absolutely certain Nick is right and there are some in the ATF drooling for the chance to make an example of someone. I’m just as certain there are others there – probably of similar seniority – thinking, “Keep your pie hole shut and don’t blow a good thing.” That guy is right, too. Last thing needed is for the question to work its way up the beauracracy. Under this administration, guess which side wins then.

    • I would have to say no, this is the only judgement they can make. Certainly there are decent people in the agency but they can’t bend the rules for us and the ones that want to play petty tyrant still have to play by the rules.

  6. For the love of God, can you please select advertisements that don’t play videos? There are no sound controls for the videos, so when my wife beds down the kids, and goes to sleep, I slip off and read TTAG, and all of the sudden…AN ADVERTISEMENT STARTS SCREAMING THROUGH MY SPEAKERS AND WAKES UP MY WIFE AND MY KIDS, AND I START FUMBLING AROUND THE PAGE TRYING TO TURN IT OFF, ONLY TO FIND THAT THERE IS NO VOLUME CONTROL, SO MY ONLY RECOURSE IS TO LEAVE THE PAGE! I can’t count how many times I’ve closed internet explorer just totally pissed of at TTAG. I’ll check in from time to time, but I won’t be visiting your site frequently anymore until the problem is fixed. I just got yelled at by my wife for it because she just put the kids down for a nap and YOU woke them up. But she can’t yell at you, so I get to hear it.

    Chris

      • I have yet to hear one of these meatstick ads in Chrome with AdBlock plus.

        Furthermore, a mute button on your keyboard is very useful as well.

      • What he said, though it’s “Ad” Block Pro.

        I didn’t know this site even had ads…

        Flash Block is crucial, though you’ll have to selectively turn it off a lot. Worth it though.

        Ghostery of course if you value your privacy in the least.

        And while I’m on the subject you should be using OpenDNS, and running a large etc/hosts file, to block most of the spyware/malware/adware that’s installed on your machine that you don’t know about.

        I do keep IE “naked” with none of the privacy protectors in place, just in case I need to go to a screwed up site. Wouldn’t ever use IE otherwise, due to the security risk.

  7. Thanks for your thoughts on this, Mr. Leghorn.

    From reading your explanation, do you feel that someone could build and AR pistol, complete with a “Regular” stock, toss a velcro strap on it, and successfully claim that their intent was to build a pistol?

  8. Intent is everything. Let me remind all other Americans what we are told when we go to war with another nation or peoples. The armed men and women say they are fighting to protect our freedoms… So that would imply that the nation or peoples we are willing to go to war with are the ones that threaten our freedoms. Now pause and let that one sink in. We go to war supposedly to protect our freedom and liberty. How can someone measure or define freedom and liberty? Would adherence to The Bill of Rights suffice as a measurement of our freedom and liberty? If the previous assumption can be made then the ATF(American Terrorist Foundation) would qualify as a nation or people that we as a nation or as an armed force should and could go to war with. Now is anybody else waiting for “the shot heard round the world”? I have a feeling that shot will be when the Terrorist Foundation finally finds out what “shall not be infringed” really means.

  9. I’m sorry, I think the text of the letter does not support your contention about “intent” being a key factor:
    Here is the part that raises my concern levels:
    Our Branch further notes that as long as the saddle device as evaluated and installed to an AR-15 type pistol, is not designed or redesigned and intended to contact the shoulder and is not used as a shoulder stock, its
    possession and use would not be prohibited.

    Let’s parse it:
    Our Branch further notes that as long as the saddle device as evaluated and installed to an AR-15 type pistol,
    (definition of the device)

    is not designed or redesigned
    (condition 1)
    AND

    intended to contact the shoulder
    (condition 2)

    AND

    is not used as a shoulder stock,
    (condition 3)

    its possession and use would not be prohibited.
    (conclusion)

    The problem is that all 3 conditions , joined by ANDs, must be satisfied for the conclusion to be true. So Johnny merrily builds his pistol and goes to the range, where he is promptly arrested by ATF agents. “I did not intend to build this as a rifle” says he, “hands off, pigs!”. After the agents cease yelling “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!” and Johnny receives first aid at the jail, he is informed that he had indeed been spotted “using the brace as a shoulder stock”, and therefore will be prosecuted for illegal manufacturing of a short barrel rifle.

    • Keep in mind that the letter is written solely for the recipient — in this case, a manufacturer of this device. It is also not binding legal precedent and not law in and of itself, it is simply the opinion of the FTB. It is their interpretation of the law, and not law in and of itself. Therefore you need to read the letter of the law to find the true definitions they are relying upon, and not simply parse the language of the FTB letter.

      Letter of the law trumps the letter of the letter. ATF can claim that firing the device a certain way makes it an NFA device all it wants, but unless you satisfy the conditions of the definition of the word “make” and deviate from the legal definition of a pistol there’s no crime.

      • The catch is that if ATF believes it to be a crime, then they will arrest you based on that interpretation of theirs. And ultimately you’ll find yourself in court, facing charges. Now it may be that your interpretation is correct, in which case you are only in for the lawyer fees. Or it may be that they can convince the judge and/or the jury that it’s an SBR (in case of a jury, it really won’t be hard).

        So, would you want to be a test case?

  10. I find it completely absurd that a firearm can be deemed legal or illegal purely because of the way it is held.

    How about some Common-Sense Gun Reform and abolish this SBR nonsense!

    • Same point I made in a previous post about this nonsense.

      Simply put: regardless of what a bunch of black-robe-wearing yokels have opined on the matter, the prohibition against “short-barreled rifles” is an unconstitutional infringement on the right to keep and bear arms. What doohickey is on the back of a firearm, and how that firearm is held, makes absolutely no difference in the way that firearm is used, or in the effectiveness of the deadly force that firearm possesses.

      • I agree, absolutely! We need to make clear, particularly to those black robed yokels, that WE understand what the constitution says, and that THEY violate it at their peril. The AR-15 platform provides a remarkable opportunity to demonstrate the stupidity of these laws, particularly NFA 1934.

        • >> and that THEY violate it at their peril

          And how exactly do you intend to “make that clear”?

  11. 30 day approvals on Form 1 efile for SBR
    Get the stamp, folks
    Stop spending 3 hours trying to figure out how to complete a 1 hour task in 10 minutes

    • Yep, get the stamp and all of the other restrictions amd storage requirements that go along with owning an SBR. Unlike a Sig brace pistol which has no legal restrictions beyond a pistol and can even be left loaded in those areas of the country where you can’t have a loaded rifle. That was one of the reasons to own one of these over an SBR.

      • Whoa, now, there are very few usage and no storage requirements attached to an SBR. “Usage” would include not lending it to someone not designated as one of the owners, otherwise none besides state prohibitions. Don’t listen to BS, talk to experts, like Silencer Shop. If your state does not allow SBR, then the Sig brace makes sense, otherwise a $200 stamp makes sense.

        • My state (WA) allows SBR, but it does not allow “loaded” rifles in a car (and it treats any rifle with a loaded magazine attached to it as loaded… even if it’s not actually inserted in the mag well). On the other hand, it does allow loaded handguns with a concealed permit. And an AR pistol with the brace is still a pistol.

          For another example, if I were to keep an SBR into the trunk of my car, I couldn’t let anyone else drive it – they’d be in possession of it while driving. With a handgun + brace, I can.

          There are many little things like that, that aren’t obvious from the get go.

        • Good lord, who sits around dreaming all these stupid laws up? That is nearly unbelievable, except for the loaning your car part, I knew that. But the “no loaded rifle” crap sounds like a hunting based law, as in to prevent hunting from your car. If so, why not just outlaw hunting from your car?

        • Yes, it’s a hunting law. And it’s actually even more retarded than you’d think at a first glance – the law says “in or on”, and the standing interpretation is that it is illegal to have a loaded rifle touch the car in any way whatsoever. For example, they commonly fine people who lean a rifle with a loaded mag against the parked car while unloading it.

          It’s not just WA, though. You’d be surprised at how many states have this “no loaded rifles in a car” rule – just google for “loaded firearm in a vehicle” and flip through a few pages. In some places it’s even worse, as they let municipalities enact those as bylaws, so there’s no uniform law throughout the state.

      • Chip, with that attitude, the Sig brace still makes no sense, you can order an 8″ or 12″ upper anytime you want, claiming it’s for a pistol, and then put a collapsible stock on it and a silencer (don’t think you can avoid the stamp on that) and go to town. Nothing actually stops you until you are asked for the paperwork, and I can attest that all most will do is refuse you service at whatever you might be trying to do (range, service, etc.) ie, when I forgot the paperwork, I was not arrested.

      • I would like to see one of you “OMG SBR stamps are for government loving, boot licking, subservient peon losers” types try that same line of thought with a third pin hole. If its your natural right to own an SBR with out ‘government approval’, then why not with a fully automatic weapon?

  12. Do you actually believe the words you type into your computer? You seriously think “Johnny” would be let go? I know it’s hard accepting you have a tyrannical agency with essentially arbitrary powers hovering over your head, but pretending like that’s not what it is won’t make it go away.

    • I don’t think either would be arrested in the first place. The ATF has previously instructed law enforcement not to arrest people misusing the pistol stock, so they seem hesitant to start down this path anytime soon.

      It’s a hypothetical thought experiment from a non-lawyer, take it as you will. But based on my reading of the law, that’s how it should work.

      • Nick, add this to your hypo: The ATF believes that Johnny can help them infiltrate a gang of White Supremacists. Don’t you think that the ATF would make an arrest? I do.

        The ATF went after Randy Weaver for less. Ruby Ridge much shows how far the ATF will go.

        • I agree completely. It is called “selective enforcement”, and it should be a criminal act punishable by at least 10 years in prison.

  13. This is what give me pause:

    “if this device [the SIG SB-15 brace ], unmodified or modified, is assembled to a pistol and used as a shoulder stock, thus designing or redesigning or making or remaking, of a weapon designed to be fired from the shoulder this assembly would constitute the making of a ‘rifle’ as defined in 18 U.S.C. Section 921(a)(7).”

    The whole, “assembled to a pistol and used as a shoulder stock, thus designing or redesigning or making or remaking, of a weapon designed to be fired from the shoulder” bit makes is sound like IF your SB15/SBX is touching your shoulder when the firearm is discharged, you, by default, HAVE designed, redesigned, made, or remade a weapon designed to be fired from the shoulder and you have an NFA item.

    The are creating intent based on the end use. The earlier post about using a wrench as a hammer seems to apply here… The tool is still a wrench, regardless of how it is used. The ATF seems to be on a different brain wave though…

    • For the lack of mind reading machines or telepaths, intent is quite often derived based on the use. Basically, if you claim to have intended to make an arm brace, but pretty much always use it as a stock, your claim of intent is not very believable.

  14. Jesus.

    What sort of “constructive possession” charges might be based upon some of my tools – oxy/acetylene rig, saws, vacuum pump – an old package of party balloons, an electronics lab, a water limnology test set…

    Just add an RC ‘copter and I’m potentially a damned terrorist.

  15. I for one would not own a gun with this type brace on it because at the very least you could be facing an enormous legal bill as your lawyer fights with the ATF. It is an incredibly fuzzy area and will devolve into them looking for the one person you might have told that you were ever planning on putting that brace on your shoulder before you put the weapon together. Or looking for that one person who can be pushed into that statement.

    • I find your thought process so absolutely un American that it makes my stomach turn. So for fear of the government coming after you for something so stupid that it boggles the mind you avoid it? So don’t buy an ar pistol…because if you believe what some of these people in this forum are saying is true, the brace is of no significance…because what the ATF is saying is that simply shouldering a pistol creates an sbr. I can’t believe that you actually think the ATF is going to arrest you solely for shouldering an AR pistol…someone restore my belief that people aren’t this naive???

      • The ATF arrested Randy Weaver (and subsequently murdered his wife and son) over a quarter-inch of shotgun length. Don’t underestimate the level of stupidity and corruption in that agency.

  16. So what should the pro gun community do to a FFL that advertises an 11″ non NFA SBR. I can show you one. The guy also stamps firearms as “United States Property” and claims it is an over run from a super secret gov agency. Even though the gov hasn’t used that marking since WW2 apparently. They have a contact page where comments can be sent.

  17. Sooooo, basically if I build a lower with a brace then it could go to court depending on how I use it because I am the manufacture. But if I buy the exact same setup from a “friend” than I am good to go.

  18. Thanks for all the explanation stuff. However, it changes nothing about me thinking this is all BS and that NFA should be torn to shreds.

  19. First, I are a lawyer.

    Second, the CFR is NOT the law. It is the agency’s guide to enforcing the law.

    Third, the CFR quoted defines a “pistol”. The law does not define a pistol, because a pistol is not covered by the NFA. The law defines a rifle, a shotgun, machine gun, and silencer, but not pistol or handgun ( unless smoothbore). Technically, ATF is not authorized to make interpretive rules for things not within the law. More importantly, they can only charge a violation on things within the law. So a “pistol”may be defined to guide agency action on what ( if smooth bored) may be subject to the NFA, but not for any other lawful purpose.

    A ” rifle” for instance is defined by law at 26 USC Sec. 5845(c):” “rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder…”

    “Designed…Made… AND intended.”. IOW in ordinary English the intent of the user is irrelevant. The intent of the maker or designer (or remaker or redesigner) must coincide ( the “AND”) with the objective making or designing or remaking or redesigning. The objective and subjective (intent) elements must occur together. Lifting a pistol to the shoulder does not remake the pistol into a rifle. It does not redesign the pistol into a rifle. Nothing about the exempt pistol materially changed in either its physical material or its objective design.

    ATF is playing bureaucratic legerdemain.

  20. I’m thinking I might want an AR-15 pistol with a 12″ bbl, but it strikes me it would be kinda front heavy, especially when I hang a suppressor on it. The solution that seems most logical is to attach a regulation full size M4 stock to it, just for the counterbalance, don’t you see? Anybody think that would fly? This “intent” crap just means if they want you (maybe for donating $$ to the wrong party) they can define your way into prison without breaking a sweat.

    Given unlimited bucks, I still like the idea I read here somewhere, a 9-10″ bbl with a pinned/welded suppressor for overall length over 16″. Still doesn’t help with the asinine “loaded rifle in car” bazonga, but I guess you can’t have everything. Collapse the stock and claim it’s a pistol today, despite being a rifle yesterday? It is what I intended to do, ossifer! Don’t intent count anymore?

  21. So basically, when you attached the Thorsden or Brace and announce it to the world via youtube or facebook or whatever, remember to say PISTOL and do not mention STOCK or SBR or ATF at all. Realistically, it’s best not to show off. Build it, have fun and that’s it.

  22. The BATF continues to misuse and redefine terms to attain the results it wants. First, it claims that “redesign” means “to alter the appearance or function of.” Then it decides that “using” the SB15 in a different manner is a “redesign.” However, when someone shoulders the SB15, they are not altering the appearance or function of the SB15. It remains as it was before they shouldered it. “Redesign” is a verb used to define the action taken to the “thing” being redesigned. For example, if you filled-in the gap of the SB15 where you insert your forearm, you would have changed, or redesigned, the “thing.” If you jump out of an airplane with the SB15 planning on using it as a parachute, you have not redesigned it. But because someone could do so, should the FAA get involved as well?

    This is as ridiculous as when the ATF defined the different-colored polymer in the fire-control area of the 80% EAS lower receiver as creating a “cavity.” Only the government could define a sold block of material as a “cavity.”

  23. I bought a Sig MPX with a separate arm brace. Put it on in the store and took it off before I left. Never put it back on. Holding the pistol would actually be more comfortable to use with a vertical fore grip rather than the horizontal
    one. The guy at Cabela’s kinda freaked out when I told him of what I wanted to do. What a pain! So have filed with a trust to convert it to an SBR. It’s silly to have to pay so much money to do so little yet be threatened with prison time for such an archaic rule. New simple rule — someone uses a weapon in the commission of a crime, he should go to jail! No parole!

  24. What about a blade or device not intended to be used as a stock for shoulder weld but instead for use as a cheek weld only..? Furthermore, whereas design may assume single-handed operation of a pistol what about two-handed use in practice?

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