[ED: Following is the comment submitted to the ATF by Eric Blandford regarding their proposed rule 2021R-08, Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached “Stabilizing Braces.” Eric is better known as Iraqveteran8888. This is the proposed rule that would all but outlaw the use of pistol stabilizing braces through a byzantine scoring system designed to kill the market for such devices. As Jeremy noted earlier today, you have until tomorrow at noon eastern time to submit a comment of your own.]
RE: ATF 2021 R-08
To whom it may concern,
My name is Eric Blandford and I am a concerned citizen and veteran who runs a very well-known YouTube channel called “Iraqveteran8888” and would very much appreciate the opportunity to share my concerns with the ATF’s recent proposal regarding the legality of pistol braces and their subsequent potential constitution of an SBR. As an owner of these devices this has a negative and unfair impact on my ability to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights.
Braced Handguns and FBI Crime Statistics
We are somehow expected to believe that in the nearly eight years that these braces have been available, they are suddenly some sort of threat to public safety or that they are used in an extraordinary number of crimes. The NFA was, after all, created with the specific intent of curbing “gang-related crime.” According to the FBI’s annual report published September 28th, 2020, the rate of violent crimes in the U.S. is on the third year of decline.
When comparing data on murder victims from 2013-2017, the firearms are broken down into their respective categories. Nowhere in the reports are braced firearms mentioned. Since the FBI does not deem it necessary to make the distinction, it shows clearly that it has never been a data point worthy of mention.
There are also no distinctions in the handgun category, even in the 2019 report for braced handguns of any type. If the ATF genuinely cared about the potential of a braced pistol having a higher chance of being used in criminal activity, why didn’t they pressure the FBI to make that distinction in their reporting?
The number of pistol braces in circulation is easily in the millions, and the data simply cannot back up the ATF’s reasoning for the proposed reclassification. It is much more likely that if the public outcry were severe enough, or if the ATF determined back in 2012 it was any issue regardless of configuration, they would never have approved the initial design at all.
A Political Line Toed Perfectly
The law deserves more respect and our checks and balances must be adhered to. Opinions are not laws. Alphabet agencies are not political parties. Yet this is clearly a political play and a seizure of an opportunity to enact mass registration of the items in question, perfectly in line with the Biden/Harris gun grab agenda.
This proposed classification change also comes on the heels of a hotly debated and widely opposed confirmation battle regarding David Chipman. He is a known anti-gun political activist. This spirit of this proposed rule change is neither constitutional nor bound in good taste. He’s not even at the helm, yet his wishes and those of the Giffords foundation are all of a sudden the marching orders.
This is about control, back door registration, and capitalizing on the confusion and fear caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the present delicate social climate.
The Illegitimacy of the 1934 National Firearms Act
When the NFA was passed in 1934, its original intent was to impose a tax on the items in question so high that it would make them prohibitively expensive and too regulatorily burdensome to own. The fee to register an item under the NFA has always been referred to as a “tax.”
The Supreme Court, in Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943), ruled “The state cannot and does not have the power to license, nor tax, a Right guaranteed to the people,” and “No state shall convert a liberty into a license, and charge a fee therefore.” A similar ruling was made in Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, Alabama, 373 U.S. 262, in which the court determined, “If the State converts a right (liberty) into a privilege, the citizen can ignore the license and fee and engage in the right (liberty) with impunity.”
Self-preservation is one of the most important human rights on this planet, and the brilliant framers of our Constitution chose to recognize it clearly and concisely. The NFA is not constitutionally sound. It violates natural rights, and converts those rights into a privilege under Federal law enforcement duress.
The $200 tax is no different than a poll tax, purposely and knowingly applied to disenfranchise gun owners specifically. In 1966, Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, the Supreme Court ruled that poll taxes were unconstitutional. So, it should be made clear that before I give my opinion on these “objective factors,” I want it known that I view the NFA as illegitimate to begin with, and it is likely the Supreme Court will too when the matter finally gets that far.
Braced pistols are in “common use” by a large subset of Americans. The gun industry has changed for the better as a result and many innovations have been made. Braces increase the safety of pistols by helping the shooter control the firearm more effectively. They help new shooters get accustomed to controlling pistols and help with recoil management for small statured shooters and those with disabilities.
The language of your “objective factors” proposal constantly mentions one hand being used to fire a handgun as a criteria. I am not sure where the ATF receives its training, but most pistol shooters use both hands to achieve proper control of a handgun. The points system also makes a large proportion of available pistols fail immediately. This is clearly a system that is designed neither in the interest of safety nor compliance, but an arbitrary word game with no solution.
I have personally witnessed wounded veterans use braced pistols in the field to take wild game where they otherwise would have been unable to use a firearm. I have witnessed wheelchair-bound veterans use braced pistols to continue exercising their Second Amendment rights after serving in combat.
The spirit under which these measures are proposed is purposely and willfully biased and ambiguous. The best course of action the ATF can take is to acknowledge that braced pistols are in common use among gun owners and in this modern era do not fall under the purview of the 1934 NFA.
The ATF has asserted before that certain collectible pistols that use shoulder stocks such as the Mauser C96 and the slotted Inglis Hi-Power do not fall under the purview of NFA regulation. The ATF has shown it can use common sense on these types of measures in the past.
The economic impact of this proposed rule change cannot be overstated. At a time when more Americans than ever are struggling financially we should not be placing unfair economic burdens on those who want to protect themselves. Placing more regulatory red tape on gun manufacturers seems a very crippling and low blow considering the Federal Government just allowed billions of dollars in military equipment to fall into enemy hands. It’s impossible to not see the moral dilemma created by imposing further restrictions on Americans who are repulsed by these actions. Many firearms companies have had record setting sales as a result of millions of Americans choosing to arm themselves.
As the amount of NICS checks proves more Americans are choosing firearms for self preservation at a time when law enforcement attrition is higher than ever, violent criminals are being released from prison. Droves of potential criminals and military aged males are illegally crossing the southern border at record rates. Law enforcement can barely handle the task at hand now with the current laws on the books and the spike in crime nationwide. The proposed rule change will only turn more honest people into felons overnight and place an unwanted task on the bulk of current LEOs.
I am at your disposal should you need further comment or clarification.