The ATF has a booth here at SHOT Show buried deep in the bowels of the event, and despite their unfortunate position they’ve been jam packed with people asking questions about their policies and practices. One of those people was Alex Bosco — inventor of the pistol arm brace — and the disabled veteran for whom the brace was designed. We weren’t present for the conversation itself, but in an exclusive interview with TTAG Alex recounted the entire discussion. And there were some surprising statements made by the ATF, not the least of which is about their reasons for changing their collective mind . . .
SIG SAUER’s statement posted just a little while ago, but the company with real skin in the game regarding the ATF’s new stance on AR pistol braces is SB Tactical. SBT manufacture all of the pistol arm braces, and SIG SAUER distributes them (alongside others in other formats). Alex Bosco from SB Tactical has been nice enough to give the readers at TTAG a peek into their plan for action before anyone else in the world, and here it is. . .
NEWINGTON, N.H. (January 21, 2015)—SIG SAUER, Inc., has issued the following statement about the recent opinion by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in regard to the SB15 and SBX pistol stabilizing braces.
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.
Late this morning (like, midnight ish) three men participated in an armed home invasion in California. One of the men was using an AR-15 pistol equipped with a pistol arm brace. The men were caught and arrested, but instead of simply being charged with the usual weapons related felonies the California police decided to tack on the charge of “possession of a short barreled rifle.” This is a state statute and not a Federal one being charged, but it still doesn’t bode well for others . . .
The last letter from the ATF didn’t change their opinion on the pistol arm brace, but this one definitely and clearly has. People have been saying that the ATF is about to do a 180 degree about face on the idea that using a pistol arm brace as a stock is perfectly legal, and it appears that the day has come. Released at about 3:45 PM central time, the latest missive is an open letter from the acting ATF chief (instead of an individual letter) that states exactly what we most feared: that using a pistol arm brace as a stock “redesigns” the firearm and “makes” it a NFA device. Make the jump for the full letter . . .
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 . . .
The National Firearms Act is one of the worst pieces of legislation in the history of the world ever. And I don’t just mean that in terms of infringing on our Second Amendment rights, I mean that grammatically as well. The law is as clear as mud, sometimes when it comes to relatively straightforward questions. Once again we seem to have run headlong into an issue that the NFA doesn’t clearly spell out. In this case, the ATF appears to have told someone that using the pistol brace “improperly” makes it an SBR. And while that is 100 percent true for that person, the ATF isn’t “reversing their decision.” The letter makes perfect sense, and it’s fully consistent with past communications. Here’s why . . .
One of our Facebook followers messengered an ATF letter that’s been making the rounds. [Posted after the jump.] Dated November 10th, it advises an inquiring gun owner that “if this device [the SIG SB-15 brace ], unmodified or modified [italics theirs], 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).” And thus become an NFA item. The letter is from . . .
After the success of the SB-15 stabilizing brace, there has been something of an arms race (if you’ll pardon the pun) to see how far the ATF ruling can be pushed. Since the SB-15 is designed to be used as an arm brace and not a stock, adding one to your AR pistol doesn’t legally make the gun a “short barreled rifle” — and saves you $200 in tax stamps. A newer design is the “Shockwave Blade,” which is basically a single vertical rubber fin that hangs from the buffer tube of your AR pistol and claims to improve stability by limiting side-to-side motion while firing. The astute among you will notice that this device looks strikingly similar to a stock. So Shockwave Technologies asked the ATF to rule on whether it is indeed a stock. The reply was a bit surprising . . .
Filed yesterday in Dallas, the lawsuit of Hollis v. Holder is suing the U.S. Department of Justice to allow legal entities such as trusts and corporations to legally register new machine guns. As you probably know, machine guns are regulated under the National Firearms Act, and in most states (as well as on the federal level) possession of an item regulated under that act is a felony unless it is properly registered. However, starting in 1986 the U.S. Government declared that they would no longer approve new registration applications for machine guns — they “closed” the registry. The newly filed lawsuit is seeking to change that.
The folks at NFATracker.com have for years now tracked how long it takes for NFA paperwork to be approved. They remain the best source of information about the NFA Firearms Branch of the ATF (since the ATF doesn’t really do the whole metrics thing). Ever since a spike in applications in the last couple years forced the department to finally hire some more staff we’ve been waiting with bated breath for the wait times to come down from their 14 month peak (as in, 14 months for a paper form 4…from the moment you sent it in to an approved stamp). According to a new chart from NFATracker.com, that prodigious wait time has dwindled to 30 days . . .