SB15- AR-15 Pistol Forearm Stabilizing Brace close-up (courtesy Alex Bsoco)

On Friday, just before the end of the work day, the ATF released a bombshell of a declaration. In their opinion the previous letters claiming SB Tactical’s stabilizing arm brace is perfectly legal were actually completely wrong, and they decided to completely reverse their decision and make the misuse of the item illegal. It’s a landmark change, since this concept (that the use of an object determines what it is rather than its intrinsic qualities) has never been applied to firearms ever in the history of the world. It would seem to some like this is the end of the line barring some legal challenge after an arrest, but there is one last card up SB Tactical’s sleeve: Declaratory Relief.

The concept is pretty straightforward. There’s a provision in U.S. law that allows for a company to bend the ear of a judge and force the government agency to reverse their decision, and it has actually been used successfully as recently as 2014. First, here are the relevant bits of law (teased out of the court documents):

28 U.S.C. § 2201(a) provides in pertinent part “In a case of actual controversy within its jurisdiction, […] any court of the United States, upon the filing of an appropriate pleading, may declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be sought. Any such declaration shall have the force and effect of a final judgment or decree and shall be reviewable as such.”

5 U.S.C. § 702 provides that “[a] person suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute, is entitled to judicial review thereof.”

5 U.S.C. § 704 provides in pertinent part that “final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court are subject to judicial review.”

5 U.S.C. § 551(13) provides that “‘agency action’ includes the whole or a part of an agency rule, order, license, sanction, relief, or the equivalent or denial thereof, or failure to act . . . .”

5 U.S.C. § 551(4) defines a “rule” as “the whole or a part of an agency statement of general or particular applicability and future effect designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy .

In short, in a situation where an autonomous government agency declares their opinion on the interpretation of a Federal law, anyone who is harmed by that declaration can seek declaratory relief from the court system. It’s a handy tool to keep people like the ATF from arbitrarily and capriciously declaring muzzle brakes as silencers (which SIG SAUER is currently fighting) or pistol braces as stocks.

The specific case referenced for this information is Innovator Enterprises Inc v B. Todd Jones (then director of the ATF). In that case, Innovator Enterprises produced a modified version of Noveske’s Flaming Pig flash suppressor to include a muzzle brake on the inside, but without sealed blast chambers. The ATF took one look at the design and declared it a silencer, much like how they took one look at SIG SAUER’s MPX muzzle brake and similarly declared it a silencer. The judge saw through the ATF’s BS and ruled that their finding was both arbitrary and capricious, invalidating the declaration and making the unholy confabulation once again legal without a tax stamp.

It is entirely possible that we are about to see a similar smackdown take place from SB Tactical. Since the logic used by the ATF is both arbitrary and capricious (their ruling is only for this one device, so using two hands to shoot a handgun would not make that object then an NFA regulated AOW despite the same logic leading to that conclusion, and the flip-floppy nature of their statements) SB Tactical has a good shot at making the ATF eat their words and allowing people to continue to use their firearms however they see fit.

118 Responses to Next Step in ATF Pistol Arm Brace Decision: Declaratory Relief

  1. I kinda like the idea of defining the use of an object in a particular way illegal rather than said objects intrinsic qualities. See “Assault Rifle.” Drop every firearm design restriction and make major misuse the crime.

      • ^^^^^^^^^^ This!

        If use defines the object, then I can “legally” acquire and possess a post 1986 full-auto rifle as long as I use it for a flag pole in my front yard.

        Oh, wait. The ATF said that once a firearm is a firearm, it is always a firearm. Now does that mean once a legal pistol is a legal pistol, it is always a legal pistol regardless of how I use it? If a friend uses a pistol as a “short barreled rifle”, is that firearm forever a short barreled rifle? if I take that pistol from my friend and use it as a pistol without putting the brace up to my shoulder, am I still guilty of using a short barreled rifle because my friend used it as a short barreled rifle which makes it a short barreled rifle forever?

        • My god, the stupid. The stupid is so intense. How can we escape such amazing stupid.

          If you worked for the ATF, would you ever admit it? I sure wouldn’t.

        • Wait — just wait a minute.

          “Once a firearm, always a firearm”? Oregon law is smarter than that; if it’s inoperable, it isn’t a firearm, which is why felons with metal-working skills can work on guns provided not all the pieces are there that would be required to make it fire — under the law, it isn’t a firearm.

          So is the ATF really saying that if I take out one tiny piece that disables the weapon so the only way to hurt someone with it is to employ it as a blunt object, it’s still a firearm?

        • Roymond,

          The ATF’s official policy position is once a firearm, always a firearm. That is why someone cannot take an 81% to 100% machined AR-15 lower receiver and then fill in enough holes to be less than 80% complete for sale as non-firearm. (Filling in the holes again would make the final machining steps much easier for a novice machinist and enable a sale without any consideration for any ATF requirements.) But the ATF doesn’t want it to be easy for people to make their own untraceable firearms. So, they claim that once the machinist was more than 80% complete with the lower receiver, they cannot reverse it … because once it was 80% complete it became a firearm and the machinist or user cannot “unmake” it a firearm.

          Yes, it is utter insanity.

        • Oddly enough, keeping a pistol a pistol is the original intent of the NFA restriction on SBRs. At the time laws against the transportation and ownership of pistols where in place. The SBR provision was designed to keep those who could not own or transport a handgun from simply buying a 30″ barreled one and making it into a pistol. The prohibition of turning a pistol into a loner weapon or putting a stock in it is purely a product of legislative tradition and over reach.

  2. Sweet, so if what matters is use rather than capability, the ATF is now okay with select fire conversions as long as we only ever use the guns in semi mode?

    • Further than that – if you only “intend” to use it in semi-auto mode. Even if the selector inadvertently found its way into full-auto.

      Or, if I build an SBR, but only intend to use it as a full-length rifle, do I need to register it as an NFA item?

      BATFE really crawled into a can of worms on this one – they’ve tied themselves up into such a Gordian knot they may really need some judicial assistance to help them cut their way out of it.

      • Now you’re cookin’. Lessee, I have an AR with a 20″ bbl, so it is once and for all a perfectly legit rifle. I put my 12″ pistol upper on it, it is still a perfectly legit rifle, you can’t fool the ATF that easily. I’m for it!

      • quote
        BATFE really crawled into a can of worms on this one –

        Hey, these are the people that said, ” a shoestring is a machine gun.”

        Being “BRIGHT” or Intelligent is not necessarily a job requirement (or even a desired trait) to work in any of the Alphabet Soups of authority(?)….

        As someone that has occasional carpal tunnel issues in my hands,
        imagine how dangerous and violent a forward vertical hand grip would make a Thompson Contender pistol.

      • So.. What would happen if someone is caught “shouldering” an AR “pistol” buffer tube.
        Just the normal pistol buffer tube nothing else -put to one’s shoulder.

  3. It seems to me that if anything is designed to be fired with one hand, it would be a pistol with a pistol brace. Isn’t that the defining characteristic, at least in part, according to the NFA (as in rifle vs pistol)?

    Or should they start putting warnings on pistol braces, “It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.”

    • I’m sorry that you don’t understand the importance of this decision with respect to possibly repealing the NFA.

      • +1
        This is about so much more than arm braces – this is about taking back ground from the whims of a tyrannical organization. Enough is enough. We’re not swallowing this utter, nonsensical BULL anymore.

        Its time to usher in a new era of common sense. Time to quit giving up ground and start taking it back.

        • And ATF nonsensical ruling, reruling, and backpedaling provides a priceless opportunity to ask courts and Congress, “why are we doing this?”

        • Never give up. Never surrender. The left has been very successful in this manner. Time for us to show the same backbone.

        • …we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds,
          we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills;
          we shall never surrender….

    • This is probably the biggest story in the constant fight for gun rights right now, it seems fitting to see regular updates on TTAG. It may not apply to me, but I am curious to see the developments on the case as it will help continue to shape the reach of the ATF. This decision may not be important if you don’t have an AR pistol and brace as I don’t, but the full picture is the important bit.

    • I actually have zero, zilch, nada interest in SBRs. But (this is a good but, not a bad but) this situation is a perfect demonstration of the capriciousness of the BATFE(CES). But even the ATF isn’t the real problem; it’s the sheer arbitrariness of the laws it enforces and has been charged with interpreting; those laws are so non-objective no one can truly figure out what they mean. But even THAT isn’t the real problem; the real problem is passing laws banning the mere possession of certain items, without regard to their use. In this case the ATF is having to do logical backflips to figure out how to make the possession of this brace illegal because it could make your gun a prohibited item.

  4. 2 more years and we have at least a chance of replacing the leadership at ATF and DOJ with people who actually read the USC and also respect it.

    • Not with another damn Bush. They will leave Marxists progressives in their featherbed fed positions rather than ruffle feathers and cause hurt feelings.

      • To say nothing of the fact that the last Bush was willing to renew the assault weapons ban if it got to his desk. Fortunately, it didn’t. That would have been far more injurious to the 2A than this is.

    • Possibilities and probabilities. It is possible that a political change in the Executive Branch will facilitate enforcement of the Constitution. It is probable that nothing will change at all. Especially in regards to NFA laws.

  5. Hmmm very interesting. Curious to see how this develops…

    All the logic referenced above is why I thought this was on pretty firm ground – and if ATF wanted to rule against these, they would have had to rule that SB was designed as a stock in the first place. But guess we’ll see. They appear to be able to rule at a whim, and completely reverse themselves with no compunction.

    As of now, it stands as the ‘Great NFA Rope-A-Dope’: “Sure, that’s fine, no problem… come a little closer” ….BOOM! **twinkle twinkle**

    …leaving many of us feeling like Dopes for actually thinking their decisions had any integrity in the first place, many companies stuck with inventory/wasted development costs, many people left with potential felony-makers sitting on their pistols, and many folks scrambling to pull down videos, posts, etc.

    I guess the Saga isn’t over yet… but honestly at this point in time, I’m moving on. Don’t want to be left in a lurch with this again.

    • How on earth could they possible prosecute anyone over this?
      Are we now expected to check in with the ATF daily to see if they’ve decided to change the minimum legal barrel lengths, or added muzzled brakes to the NFA list?

      This law is fundamentally unenforceable. There is no possible way they can prove that everyone is aware that they just decided to change their mind, and their previous letters ASSURING us this was legal are now invalidated.

      This is what tyranny looks like – whimsical decisions that make people criminals with no recourse for appeal.

      • While your point may be valid, the fact is that this latest ruling means these are now taboo at the range – whether strapped to your wrist or otherwise. So if I can’t use it, and just the mere presence of it will not allow me on my local ranges, my only recourse then is to remove it – or go SBR. I personally do not want to take a chance with a local LEO interpretation or other possible false accusations of constructive intent – unless this is completely reversed yet again (and even then, I am hesitant to get roped and doped again).

        • Sian – true. But it DOES creates a huge gray area as to “intent,” not to mention the logical paradoxes that could be applied to existing regulations. And while one may be able to beat it in court, it would certainly be expensive and timely for the average law-abiding citizen.

      • Sian – Correct. Sorry, my editor is off for MLK day today /jk. That sentence should be revised: So if just the mere presence of the device will not allow me to use it at my local ranges, my only recourse then is to remove it – or go SBR”

        • If your range doesn’t allow its presence, then maybe you’re going to the wrong ranges. Thordsens atf letter of December 18th and my recent conversation with one of the atf agents at Shot Show confirmed that firing an ar pistol from the cheek is perfectly legal. What’s funny is that I measured the distance between my cheek and my shoulder and it is no more than 4 inches. So how is anyone (unless they are crawling up your butt) going to tell whether you are shoulder or cheek welding?

  6. Hope Sig pick up this battle since they basically brought the sb-15 to market.

    As a side note, is it me or has Sig been fighting a lot of legal fights lately? A P320 was already on my short list of new pistols, but all of their legal fights might help move the p320 up on my list

    • SIG is taking it to them in the name of Free America – and its about time someone did. We’re too old for this nonsensical BS now – the people are too well informed.

      SIG’s executive staff is a group of real life patriots if ever there was one IMO.

      • SIG is taking it to them in the name of their wallet, same as any other big corporation.

        Which is perfectly fine, and they’re entitled to it. But don’t ascribe to them the motivations that they cannot possess.

  7. In a way this might actually be a good thing. If “the use of an object determines what it is” then “assault weapon” laws only apply to criminals and not sporting rifles or home defense rifles!

  8. Here is a better question: why do we need government permission to make or possess something?

    Why are these features or design aspects of a firearm relevant?
    — overall length
    — length of barrel
    — handles
    — presence or absence of a shoulder stock
    — usability of one or two hands
    — rate of fire
    — muzzle accessories

    It is patently offensive that government restricts the features of our personal property. I didn’t elect anyone to tell me what length of barrel I can have. That is my personal choice. It is just as offensive as government telling a woman which feminine products she can use.

  9. I actually like the ATF’s ruling because while it sucks in the short term It might hand us a very big win.

    By them saying that a firearm is redesigned simply by how you use it, that means any one that holds a pistol with two hands is redesigning it into a AOW. It gives us a great opportunity to finally take the NFA back to court and get it thrown out as unconstitutional. Remember the miller case determined that firearms that have a military/militia purpose are technically protected by the 2nd. (because there was no defense to show that the NFA weapons had a use to a militia, so they got away with saying the NFA was constitutional.) Granted the ATF will probably reverse this before it got that far, but it is a great potential opportunity.

    • As much as I would LOVE to see your argument go to court, I suspect the U.S. Supreme Court will fall back on their canard, “We support the 2nd Amendment, but … restrictions are okay.” And the Supremes will happily allow restrictions on “dangerous” and “unusual” features such as select-fire and full auto fire.

      Politicians and attorneys can fight and debate forever over the fringe of a law or ruling. Unless we get a Constitutional Amendment that says “The 2nd Amendment text ‘Shall not be infringed’ does not allow for ‘reasonable restrictions’, period!”, this will go on forever.

      • I am not so sure about that, the courts rely very heavily on precedent, so they can’t strait up ignore Miller, even if they don’t completly repeal the NFA We would probably still get the Machine gun registry reopened and some protection of NFA items meaning states can’t ban them individually.

        • The machine gun section of NFA has never been challenged at all, miller was about a shotgun. That ruling, as mentioned, included the necessity for protected firearms to be usable by the military/militia. Gee whiz, we ISSUE select fire AR clones (snicker) to our military, reserves, police (city, state, and federal). How would SCOTUS possibly rule that 2A does not protect civilian ownership of an M4? And BANG, there went NFA. That ruling would take 1986 right along with it, and ATF agents should start shopping resumes.

        • and ATF agents should start shopping resumes.

          I doubt there are any job openings listed for “swaggering overbearing tin-plated dictators with delusions of godhood” though they could no doubt find a few more synonyms.

        • JSF01,

          Even if your legal argument is sound, the U.S. Supreme Court has the ultimate ace in the hole: they will simply refuse to hear any case that would compel them to toss out the Hugh’s Amendment of the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act of 1986, Gun Control Act of 1968, or National Firearms Act of 1934.

          That is the problem with playing the game according to government’s rules. So much for “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”.

    • “By them saying that a firearm is redesigned simply by how you use it, that means any one that holds a pistol with two hands is redesigning it into a AOW.”

      I wrote a letter to ATF requesting clarification on this exact question, and worded very clearly and unambiguously (i.e. such that they cannot reply only regarding AR “pistols” etc, it names Glock 17 by name). We’ll see what the response will be.

      • “I doubt there are any job openings listed for “swaggering overbearing tin-plated dictators with delusions of godhood” though they could no doubt find a few more synonyms.”

        They can try the IRS

  10. Nice picture of what he submitted to the ATF, not what is currently being sold.
    “has never been applied to firearms ever in the history of the world” FALSE. Silencers – not a firearm by definition but declared one by its use.
    Declaratory relief requires “harm” – as they have not banned the sale of the brace, what harm has now been caused (other than the continual youtube idiocy of “f the ATF, look at my SBR and I didn’t need to pay $200”)?
    Innovator – ATF failed to follow its own declared procedures for classification. Not the case here.
    SB Tactical has zero chance of winning on this one. They have suffered no harm here unless they want to admit that the real purpose of the SB15 and its AK counterpart are to provide a crappy stock in the guise of a “brace”.

    • What about the lost potential sales? That is a very real harm that this decision will do to many, many vendors, not just manufacturers. I already have a sale on hold and a canceled sale because of this issue.

      Any good lawyer worth his salt can prove that some customers will just not bother to buy a brace, or brace equipped firearm. if they have to wait 6-9 months and pay an extra $200. Not when you can do the same thing and just use a normal, comfortable stock.

    • I believe the legit harm is caused by the fact that no one will want to buy these as arm braces anymore, because the mere act of anyone shouldering it – either accidental or otherwise – then becomes a Felony, rendering the device too potentially dangerous to be used for it’s original intention. If the ruling on this was clear from the start that it couldn’t be shouldered, the included ATF letter would have read something like “while ATF has ruled that installing this does not change the design of the device, any act of shouldering this accidentally or otherwise constitutes a Felony offense punishable by 10 years in prison and loss of all firearm privileges for life”. Do you think they would have sold even ONE of them if THAT is how the letter was written – if that is how ATF ruled from the start?

      • “I believe the legit harm is caused by the fact that no one will want to buy these as arm braces anymore, because the mere act of anyone shouldering it – either accidental or otherwise – then becomes a Felony, rendering the device too potentially dangerous to be used for it’s original intention.”

        Exactly this. Who wants a device that makes you a felon if you simply use it for a legal activity other than the intended purpose? does any other item in existence have such restrictions put on it?

    • I can tell you for a fact that it’s hurt them. I was about to purchase one this weekend, and didn’t. They just lost $200 from me alone. With the recent news of it being a possible felony if you’re seen shouldering one, I want nothing to do with it. All it would take for me to be out tens of thousand of dollars, and possibly go to federal prison, is for any officer to simply SAY they saw me shoulder it, and it would be a felony trial, where it would be my word against an officers. No thank you.

      • “any officer to simply SAY they saw me shoulder it, and it would be a felony trial, where it would be my word against an officers. ”

        And just that quickly, you have nailed the entire purpose of the ATF, and firearm laws in general. THAT is “common sense”.

        Remember? Gun control is not about guns, it’s about control. If one man’s lies can put you in prison for 10 years, we have liftoff. Especially since you know damn well that if you suddenly came up in court with a video and a witness that what the LEO swore to was a complete lie, HE would never be prosecuted for it.

    • They didn’t ban the sale of suppressors or the muzzle device that was mentioned in the article, they sad it would cost you 200.00 to put it on the gun as it was classified as a suppressor and the judge ruled against the ATF so you hypothesis in that aspect doesn’t float

  11. Now that the music has stopped playing…

    The ones who got duped by ATF’s schizophrenia have pulled down their videos and pulled off their braces.

    The ones who already have SBRs feel vindicated and get to take their snide little shots.

    The ones who don’t want to accept it for their various reasons, say they will trudge on.

    …I’d say this latest post falls under the ‘trudge on’ category. I guess we’ll see if it goes anywhere. As for me personally, I’m moving on. I don’t want to get roped and doped again. Who knows, maybe some day I’ll be in the ‘SBR snob’ category. Only time will tell. But I’m sure not anxious to be rope-a-doped again.

    I do think though that SB better be looking at revising that ATF letter they include with each brace to clarify that “while ATF has ruled that installing this does not change the design of the device, any act of shouldering this accidentally or otherwise constitutes a Felony offense punishable by 10 years in prison and loss of all firearm privileges for life”.

  12. Looks like some of the RCMP’s famous goodwill to man is spreading south of the border. Hope to see you guys make it through this one; even compared with Canuck laws, the whole SBR/SBS/AOW/DD thing is FUBAR.

  13. (REVISED) ATF LETTER INCLUDED!:

    “The ATF has ruled that installing this device does not change the classification of the weapon… HOWEVER, any act of this device coming in contact with anyone’s shoulder – accidentally or otherwise – does (now, suddenly, in direct contradiction to our initial and previous rulings, and all logic as previously referenced as ‘design intent’) change the classification of the weapon to an SBR, and therefore is a Felony violation that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and loss of all firearm privileges for life (…until such time as it is no longer in contact with anyone’s shoulder of course, at which time it immediately reverts back to being a perfectly legal pistol, but by then you were already in possession of an unregistered SBR and can be prosecuted as a Felon). In addition, any intention to have this device touch your (or anyone else’s) shoulder at any time in the future (as determined by whomever wishes to determine that for whatever reason) can also be construed as constructive possession, which is also a Felony violation that can be prosecuted against you in a court of law”

    Note: Definition of ‘shoulder’ to be clarified at a later date and is subject to change, as with any other statements or rulings as aforementioned at any time, because we can basically do whatever we want and change our minds on a whim.

    Yay! anybody want one?

    • Very funny…one of the best comments yet! I find it strange considering some of your other comments stating that because of this ruling you don’t want a stabilizing brace? This comment demonstrates the how farcical, unenforceable and indefensible atf really is? Are you truly a free man if you cower to the capricious whims of this agency and propagate possible harm to what seems to be a veteran owned true blooded American company?

  14. The NRA keeps asking me for donations, on the premise that they are the leader in advancing gun owners’ rights. Let’s see if they pick up the gauntlet here.

    • Nah,,, everyone’s running from this like the plague. Too touchy/nuanced to sell at a ‘mainstream level’, and unfortunately that’s the playing field they have to compete on. Like I said before: “…for everyone’s sake, I think it’s time to move on from the Great Sig Brace Fiasco, because honestly I don’t want to hear ATF’s ‘answers of the day’ to some of the questions this raises”

      It’s over like rover. The sooner we move on the better.

      • Cowards like you are why we find ourselves where we are currently vis a vis gun rights.

        Folks like you said to just pass by this Dick Heller fellow and his DC gun case, it was a lost cause, don’t poke the bear, etc. “We’ve got to maintain what we’ve got by not making waves and pretending not to exist!”

        The only time our side ever makes any yardage is when we stop listening to the cowards amongst us and instead go on the offensive.

        I hope Sig lawyers up like they did with the muzzle brake thing. They, at least, aren’t scared to take the fight to the enemy.

        • and what would you have me do, CoolHand – write the ATF a letter and complain? Maybe you ought to read that Memo again bro. I understand your upset. I got burned too. If you want to call people cowards and scream at the wind, go ahead. Not sure what you think a ‘courageous comment’ would be – something like yours perhaps? Maybe you have some courageous course of action that we should all take that you’re not sharing with us? I for one and sick of getting burned by their ‘ruling of the day’ and my expectations that they will actually get it right and straighten this out for the better are pretty low. They’ve already shown no integrity in honoring their word. Not sure what you are expecting….

        • Oh and it’s SB Tactical, not Sig, that makes these. So not sure what you’re expecting from Sig either. You might be disappointed there as well.

        • Can’t reply to RMN directly again for some reason, but what I suggest is that instead of just shrugging your shoulders, spreading your ass cheeks a little wider, and exhorting everyone else do the same, you instead either keep your defeatism to yourself OR, help organize a legal campaign (either through logistics, expertise, or just some money) to get this before a court to argue the insanity not just of this ruling but of the actual base statute they’re working from to make these rules.

          I spend money and time when and where I can to help push the cause forward.

          In 1980, the idea that every single state and maybe soon DC would have some form of concealed carry for average citizens was a fantasy not worthy of serious consideration according to people like you. It was too far away and too hard, and there were too many people against us, so why even try?

          We try because the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time, and you never finish if you don’t get started in the first place.

          Getting off of dead center is the most difficult part of any movement, and Eeyores such as yourself just make that apathetic inertia that much harder to overcome, for no reason whatever that I can see, except your own caustic pessimism.

        • Also, Sig distributes the AR braces exclusively for SB, which makes this Sig’s problem as much as it is SB’s, which is good for everyone involved (save the ATF), because Sig has shown in the past a predisposition toward not taking an idiotic ruling that hurts their bottom line lying down.

          Little bitty SB might be cowed into accepting this BS, but Sig is big enough and belligerent enough to take on the tech branch and win.

  15. I’ve always thought that the SAFE Act in NY does not regulate nor restrict rifles. It restricts pistol grips (for example).

    A semi-automatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine may be owned and sold without restriction by the State. If it has a pistol grip, it may not.

  16. “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
    ― Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption

    …unless you think SB Tactical is going to ‘crawl through a river of shit and come out clean on the other side’, my suggestion is that it’s time to move on, and stop asking ATF questions that they can’t answer, because it’s really all a bunch of BS anyway and they’re just making it up as they go.

    It’s obvious their decision is that you can’t pass go unless they collect their $200. They’ll find some way to ‘clarify’ that with some new wording if challenged, I’m sure. It’s their game and they’re making up the rules. Are we hoping for a double reversal at this point? Who’s to say they wouldn’t even reverse that yet again? Get it? The sooner we move on the better.

    ‘Moving on’ would be such posts as: “How to SBR your AR Rifle” and “How to properly dispose of your SB”. “The Joys of bolt action riflery” and “Why you shoulda never had a pseudo-SBR thingie anyway, you little mall ninja – by Elmer Fudd.” And soon to come: “ATF reports dramatic increase in SBR applications in 2015”…

    /sorry for the heavy sarc

    The reality is – if anything – the decision they would have had to reverse is NOT the one that ‘shouldering a Brace does not change the classification of the weapon’, but – if anything – their initial decision that the SB was ‘fine to go to market/not designed as (and couldn’t be too easily used as) a make-shift (crappy) stock and therefore installing the brace does not change the classification of the weapon’.

    But that’s not what they did. And the entire industry and their customers got rope-a-doped and the whole thing still makes no sense. The only thing that restores their previous guiding principle of ‘design intent’ is to go back to the start and declare that installing the SB makes it an SBR. (yeah, I hate that too, but) They already killed the brace with this move just the same. Who wants to have a device on the end of your pistol that if you or anyone else happen to use it like you instinctively shoot any other similar gun, without reconfiguring anything, you are committing a Felony? It was one or the other, not both. The only way to solve the riddle of the Schrodinger Brace is to either declare the Cat dead or alive – but not both.

    And man, I’m already sick of talking about it. It’s over. “Do not pass go unless we collect our $200”

    Time to ‘get busy livin’ and SBR – or not… ‘Shit or get off the pot’

    • Yup, best to just surrender now and get to liking the feeling, so we can do it more often later.

      I swear, this whole “gun rights” thing would be infinitely easier if we didn’t have to fight ~40% of our own damned people on any given issue along with the whole of the anti-rights establishment.

      If you look at an issue and think, “I have no use for, or interest in, this thing.” instead of making an impediment of yourself and helping maintain the anti-rights status quo, why don’t you just go take a friggin’ walk or read a good book or go try to charm the panties off your old lady?

      You’d be doing us all a huge favor, and maybe your old lady will like the additional attention too. 😉

      • Got me all wrong bro. This totally sucks for me too. I am not the impediment for shit. I think it’s asinine they reversed themselves on this and the only decision was the one they had already made. What are you really hoping for – yet another reversal? I already got rope-a-doped once. Not ready to do that again. That’s all. You do whatever you want. My post on a blog is not changing our gun rights either way dude. I don’t know who’s fighting whom in your comment there, but it aint me.

  17. Maybe they will revise their ruling that the Colt XM177 moderator is a silencer since it contains no baffles at all.

    • You want ATF to make as many stupid and/or contradictory rulings as possible, first. Given that this will likely have to be dealt with in legislature rather than court, it’ll make the job of reforming the laws much easier. Most politicians don’t understand laws, especially the ones with lots of technical details, but they understand stupid, and they don’t like to be on the side of something that obviously is stupid, so you want to give them as many nice and clear examples as possible.

      E.g. if ATF does indeed rule that holding a handgun with two hands rather than one makes it an AOW and subject to tax, that would be so blatantly and monumentally stupid that it would warrant some attention re: NFA reform. Not to mention that it’ll also get a lot of normally non-politicized sports shooters into the game.

  18. This is all necessary because the vast majority of all crimes, shootings and riots happen with full auto silenced big dollar weapons.
    Oops, that’s the cops hardware, not ours.

  19. How does this letter affect other pistols or revolvers for example the popular mares leg, seems this ruling goes far beyond the sig brace

    • It would seem to apply to the mare’s leg if you actually shoulder it. Then again, it’s really very awkward to, so why would you do that?

  20. Everyone with a SIG brace are all of a sudden very lonely shooters; if they’re even shooting it at all now. That $200 stamp everyone scoffs at doesn’t seem so bad in retrospect now does it?

    • Why do you guys persistently ignoring all the other reasons to use SB over registering an SBR? It’s not just about paying $200, it’s about having a gun that I can freely transfer to other people, have in the trunk of my car while letting my wife drive it etc.

    • You might want to read the fine print on that tax stamp you’re so proud of.

      ATF has long held that bearers of NFA firearms can be subjected and must submit to an inspection of the weapon and the storage conditions thereof at ANY TIME, FOR ANY REASON, WITHOUT ANNOUNCEMENT OR WARNING, and WITHOUT A WARRANT.

      So that fancy tax stamp you were privileged enough to pay $200 for is actually a “come search the entire structure where my NFA item is stored at any time for any reason, unannounced, and unvetted by a court of law” stamp.

      Whatever they find, they can and will use against you, whether it was there before they showed up or not, and whether it is even related to your NFA item or not.

      Congratulations, you just PAID a government agency to take from you a blanket guarantee to submit to arbitrary searches of your home (or wherever your trust is based) for as long as you own an NFA item.

      Neat, huh?

      It ain’t always just about the money.

      • Hmmm, what I’ve read on this said that is actually not true (specifically in regards to suppressors, which are technically considered ‘firearms’ and are treated the same as SBR’s). I think it’s a class 3 Firearms license you are referring to?

        http://www.silencershop.com/support/top-10-questions/

        4. Do I give up any rights when I buy a silencer? (Will the ATF start showing up to search my house?)

        No.

        This often comes up because of the mistaken belief that a “Class 3″ license is required to purchase a suppressor. A “Class 3″ license is a dealer license – and the ATF absolutely can show up to search a dealer’s premises; but, silencer buyers don’t give up any rights at all.

  21. The flip flopping is the probably what’s going to undermine the ATF’s position. it is a clear sign of not having ones sh*t together.

    On a side note can someone please explain why I can have an ar pistol without a stock but I can’t have a 12 gauge shotgun pistol without a stock? I understand that’s not a thing unless you count the Super Shorty but the ways you’re changing the firearms is exactly the same.

    • Um, you can have a 12 gauge shotgun pistol without a stock. Ever seen Mossberg Persuader?

      The legality of this is very messy. A shotgun is defined as a firearm intended to be fired from the shoulder, or something “redesigned” from such a firearm. So if you take a shotgun with a stock, remove it and put a pistol grip there instead, it’s still a shotgun. And if you trim the barrel down below 18.5″, it becomes an SBS (why 18.5″? because the law as enacted by Congress says so).

      OTOH if your shotgun has initially being manufactured with a pistol grip, rather than a rifle stock – like the aforementioned Persuader – then, according to ATF, it’s not a shotgun at all (since it’s not “designed to be shouldered”). It’s obviously not a rifle, either, and it doesn’t qualify as a handgun unless it is designed to be “shot with one hand”.

      That leaves two choices: either it’s AOW, or it’s a generic firearm. The definition of AOW is that it is a weapon “capable of being concealed on one’s person”, excluding non-smoothbore handguns. The law doesn’t specifically say what this means, but ATF has interpreted it as being under the overall length limit of 26″, on the grounds that this number is used to distinguish SBR from non-SBR, which has the same core intent.

      So if it’s over 26″, it’s just a firearm, no special NFA rules apply – which is true even if it has a barrel under 18.5″ or 16″, so long as it has enough stock length to bring the overall size to 26″. So for example this doesn’t need a stamp: http://shockwavetechnologies.com/site/?page_id=88

      If it’s under 26″, then it is an AOW, like the Super Shorty.

      TL;DR version: NFA and GCA are written by people who had no clue about firearms, and is a mish-mash of arbitrary regulations that don’t even mesh well together, much less make any sense. It is what it is because it was written that way.

      • I forgot about the smoothbore aspect. It’s a good thing the NFA reduces crime. And doesn’t put a strain on average citizens. And also make weapons a whole lot less lethal. What would we ever do without the NFA?

      • int19h says:
        January 19, 2015 at 20:40

        Um, you can have a 12 gauge shotgun pistol without a stock. Ever seen Mossberg Persuader?

        I believe Shotgun ( by ATF DEFINITION) has a buttstock. meant to be shouldered.
        A pistol grip device that utilizes a shotgun shell is simply a firearm. i think (don’t remember ) it is supposed to be classed as an “OTHER” ( possibly depending on salesman “pistol”) on form 4473.

        The Persuader ( package) I think comes as a buttstock shotgun. but includes a pistol grip. Persuader must always meet minimum shotgun barrel and total length requirements.
        It is and always will be viewed as a shotgun. pistol grip or not.
        A factory built buttstock shotgun will always by manufacture be a shotgun.

        The “CRUISER” is what is sold (manufactured) as only a pistol grip firearm. A Cruiser is technically not a shotgun. It must meet minimum total length requirements though.

        • I always get those two mixed up, thanks.

          Yes, it’s Cruiser. And yes, it’s legally not a shotgun (nor a rifle, a pistol, nor AOW). Which is why you can shorten the barrel below 18.5″ and still be in the clear so long as you add enough on the other side for the overall length to remain under 26″ (and so long as what you add is not designed to be shouldered, since that’d instantly reclassify it to a shotgun, and hence SBS).

  22. I for one am seriously surprised that ATF took this stance. I’ve been one of those guys who’s been saying that ATF will never tell people how they can and cant use a pistol. Like everyone else I thought it was easier for them to just say that the brace wasn’t a brace. According to an Attorney friend of mine they didn’t do that because of some regulations found in the ADA (American Disabilities Act). What’s even more surprising is that on December 18th the ATF opined that Thordsen saddle stocks were ok on a firearm…and that adding a buffer tube to add a device like a saddle stock to a pistol was also legal. They even said that cheek welding a pistol was legal…and again…in the same letter, they said that using a saddle stock as a stock makes and SBR.

    So I dont know what everyone is worried about. If you’re at the range with your Brace, simply Cheek it instead of shouldering it…and if you do happen to put it near or on your shoulder and an ATF officer tells you that he saw you shoulder it….just tell him you cheeked it. Not sure about other people, but I’m 6″ 1’….and the distance from my cheek to my shoulder when in the firing position is about 4 inches. Unless they’ve got a camera attached to your head, I dont think there’s any way that they could tell the difference.

    • Thordsen asked for a clarification about their saddle stocks which are intended for cheek welding. The ATF replied that, “Saddle devices designed for “cheek enhancement” generally would not change a pistol’s classification to a “shorl-barreled rifle. ” FTISB finds that the submitted saddle devices are not designed to support the ARtype pistol in the shoulder of the shooter during firing but, rather, to rest against the shooter’s cheek.” So using a pistol to the cheek is ok…but a few inches back and you’re a felon. They also concluded in the same letter that shouldering a saddle stock creates and sbr just like the brace.

  23. “Everyone with a SIG brace are all of a sudden very lonely shooters; if they’re even shooting it at all now. That $200 stamp everyone scoffs at doesn’t seem so bad in retrospect now does it?”

    Not likely unless the ATF wants to patrol
    every range in america. Nobody cares at
    my range….folks actually take turns shooting
    them. The only thing ATF has done is vastly
    increase the contempt for the legitimacy of
    our rulers. The $200 stamp is STILL a bad idea
    by the way….read CoolHands post again….slowly.

  24. If I fire my snub nose revolver while the butt is touching my shoulder, is it now an illegal SBR? That appears to be the logic here.

  25. and yet fake silencers are readily available on Amazon.com…

    A threaded and sealed tube with no internals = not a silencer.

    A tube shaped muzzle break with COMPLETELY OPEN SIDES = silencer.

    If the president can ignore economics then SURELY the ATF can ignore the other science in regards to air pressure and sound and other such absurdities as intent based solely on ownership. “Oh you bought 10lbs of ammonium nitrate… you’re clearly trying to blow up a federal building… you’re under arrest. Meanwhile in the rest of the world, the things are damned near mandatory.

  26. It is all in how you use it. Look at a mag lite for example. It is merely a flashlight, but it can be a sex toy, a blunt object to brain someone with, a hammer, a door stop or even an illegal silencer. Intent is everything.

  27. 2 things to consider as this story unfolds. First, this was an opinion letter, not a ruling. Second, when the brace was launched in April 2013 until mid-2014 there was no opinion letter or ruling on whether or not you could shoulder the brace equipped pistol. There was, however, a lot of speculation. The current position is not defensible.

  28. I hate to say it but I feel there is a precedent for the concept of the use of an object determines what it is rather than its intrinsic qualities. For example, look at the rulings on lightning links, they are viewed as machine guns by themselves, even though you and I both know that in no way is a lightning link a machine gun. As for this whole bit about shouldering the brace being tantamount to redesigning it, that is simply an argument without merit. The commonly accepted meaning of a redesign is a change to the physical design of something to acheive a purpose. Of more interest, and illustrative of ATF’s shaky footing, they’re using terminology from outside the relevant statute, demonstrated in the letter by the reference to the term redesign not being defined in the statute. The long and short of it though is this, we backdoored their asses like we as Americans have always found a way to do, they underestimated the popularity of the SB, and they backpedaled when they saw just how popular these little guns were. My concern is the lightning link precedent though, as its potential use determines its status rather than its intrinsic qualities.

    • Well said! The only thing that is different is that Atf is saying that the brace is not a stock, the brace when used as intended is not a stock, the brace when cheek welded is not a stock….it’s only a stock according to the ATF if you place it to a small region in the shoulder area. Whereas with the lightening link the ATF said that it is a machine gun all by itself.

  29. As some others have said, it not the brace it’s how it is used. If used as designed on a pistol build then it’s fine. But if used as a shoulder stock for an AR15 pistol then the user has redesigned it (I think the term I read was ‘redesign’) and thus the ATF has ruled that is illegal since it is now an SBR.

  30. Ya know, this whole situation has made me wonder a few things about what is legal and what ain’t when it comes to ar pistols. if shouldering the gun is the defining issue, would simply shouldering the gun with an extended buffer tube covered in foam constitute ‘redesigning’ the gun to a sbr? how about with a cane tip installed, or with a cane tip and saddle stock. seems like a very slippery slope!

    • Based on the literal interpretation of the letter, yes, I believe this means that shouldering a buffer-tube-only AR pistol would make it an SBR.

      • So that logic would dictate that making an ar pistol is actually (or could be deemed) manufacturing a sbr!? Better run and tell all those poor guys who bought em without tax stamps that they can get arrested for shouldering their guns! Damn is that logic stupid!!!

        • No, it doesn’t, because they are not intended or designed to be used as such. You “create” an SBR the moment you shoulder it, but it’s not one before then.

  31. sigmon says:
    January 22, 2015 at 16:39

    So.. What would happen if someone is caught “shouldering” an AR “pistol” buffer tube.
    Just the normal pistol buffer tube nothing else -put to one’s shoulder.

    This +1

    • It’s all in plain text in the letter. You go to jail for illegal manufacturing of an SBR without the tax stamp.

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