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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 . . .

According to the ATF agent Alex spoke to (while B. Todd Jones was standing behind him listening intently, we hear), the reason why the ATF decided to reverse its original decision is because they received so many letters asking about the legality of using the pistol arm brace. As Alex said later, that statement is very troubling as it indicates that the ATF is basing their ruling and their decisions not on the law or the technology but instead on mob rule.

The ATF agent reportedly went on to say, in no uncertain terms, that the pistol arm brace Alex designed was not the only device impacted by this letter. Alex asked about other pistol devices like cane tips, padded buffer tubes, and cheek weld adapters. According to the ATF agent that he spoke to, all of those items are also subject to the same classification if used by placing the gun to the shooter’s shoulder.

I attempted to verify this information, but the agent I spoke with told me the complete opposite: that the letter applies only to the pistol arm brace and nothing else. When I asked further questions (“why doesn’t this apply to other items with similar functions?) the agent refused to speak further and asked for my information, claiming I would be contacted “after lunch” by a PR person who was “out getting their computer fixed.” I was never contacted, and no other employees were willing to speak to me on any topic.

It sounds to me like even the ATF employees have no idea what the latest letter on the pistol arm brace actually means. Since the statement was made at a time specifically designed to not allow anyone to actually understand the decision prior to the SHOT Show, it seems that the ATF was intentionally and maliciously trying to confuse firearms companies and the general public rather than helpfully clarify the law. However, since the ATF employees at the show have refused to speak to me and the PR person decided not to return my call, I have no additional information beyond what Alex relayed.

Needless to say, Alex isn’t happy. Neither is SIG SAUER. And they’re looking for solutions.

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    • I’m confident it wasn’t just the gun community. You can’t tell me the anti-rights crowd didn’t contact the ATF about this making a fuss. I can just picture some New England and California senators also placing phone calls and sending emails to the ATF becaus guns are bad.

      Imagine an email from Bloomberg’s group with links to some of the TouTube videos that sprung up this Fall.

      • I doubt that the anti side had even really started to realize what the brace was or how it was used or what it meant. If you ask an anti what an SBR is, they’ll give you a blank stare.

    • You can’t get mad at people for sending the ATF a letter to make sure the simplest of actions (putting a hunk of rubber on the back of the buffer tube) doesn’t land them 10 years in jail and a felony on the record.

      This is not gun owner’s fault. The ATF’s latest letter is for the most part entirely incorrect and we will just have to wait for someone to take them to court over it.

      • ^^This^^
        Please stop blaming people for doing a little CYA to protect against the fleeting, unconstitutional whims of a government agency with the power to throw you behind bars.

      • They weren’t asking if it’s legal to put padding on a buffer, they were asking about if they could get around the previous regulation and NFA stuff by padding it and then using it as a stock.

        They were basically shining a big spotlight on a loophole.

      • Nonsense.

        It is not about people being careful of violating NFA. It is about those who posted youtube videos, blog pictures, etc proclaiming how smart and badass they are because they “beat the man!”. “hey you dont have to get a tax stamp! just use a sig brace!”

        Being stupid, they failed to come to the realization that the ATF can, and did, in this case, reverse their ruling and close a loophole.

        Dont pretend that idiots didn’t contribute to this, because they did. like somebody said above, “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”. That is the smartest mantra I have ever heard explaining this cluster.

        • Instead of rising up against all the injustice and abuse of the Constitution just argue with your masters on small details of the tyranny is implemented Be proud of your slavery while you’re at it.

    • No. Not our fault. We didn’t set up this ridiculous, whimsical circus.
      When you make laws this arbitrary, unenforceable, self-contradictory, and packed with non-sensical BS people are GOING TO GET CONFUSED.

      You don’t blame sane, rational people when they can’t understand gibberish.

    • Blame the victim, I bet you think women who dress nice deserve to be raped too?

      Grow a spine and blame the goddamn potentates who issued these royal decrees.

      The original ATF letter was an “opinion” they could revoke it at ANY TIME, that’s how privileges work.

    • If you have to count on the silence of millions of firearm owners to keep the BATFE from “writing law”, you don’t have a snowballs chance in hell. The NFA laws need to be abolished at best and modified at worst.

    • You forgot to squeal, “They ruined it for the rest of us!!!” while sucking your thumb and rocking to ‘n’ fro.

      Here’s one for you, “Play statist games, win slave prizes.”

      • Good.

        Sig brace was clown shoes anyway, if you’re going to do something do it right. As in SBR or nothing.

        “Wahhh wahh wahh SBRs are Illegal in my state!”, “Wahh wahh wahh I can’t CCW a rifle!”

        If you truly believe in the Molon Labe trash and Cold Dead Hands shtick that you all spout I don’t see how the law would be any hindrance. I mean, you all plan on shooting my coworkers when we show up to confiscate your mid-life crisis hardware anyway right?

  1. Who do we write to and what do we say to convince them to “change their minds” about the entirety of NFA? We’ve been going about this all wrong!

    • No kidding. If that’s the case we just need to deluge them with letters about stupid NFA rules, allowing trusts to own machine guns, etc.

    • Indeed, if all it takes is a handful of letters to get them to completely reverse a decision, I’m sure we could muster up a mountain of mail on the subject of “legalizing” SBR’s, SBS’s, and suppressors.

  2. One one hand we can blame the letter writers but is this really how our country should be run? Lawmaking left to bureaucrats without representation is the way of dictators, not a Republic, I think I’ll buy a Sig this week.

  3. So… some of us with deep pockets hire some contractors full time to flood the ATF mailboxes with petitions to stop making stupid laws.

    Problem solved.

    But seriously, some people irritate the hell out of me. Those kids who are afraid of hall monitors and ask for permission before doing anything in elementary school turn into the same type of timid, square adults. The irony is these lame-o’s will still still post shit about “sheeple” on their facebook pages all while simultaneously mailing the ATF for clarification on issues the ATF hadn’t even thought about yet.


      • You either missed the point or you’re one of the hand wringing men with anxiety who have to ask permission before taking a piss… all while posting bad ass pics with firearms on social media.

        • Bear, its clear the problem is with the ATF, which has a long sordid history of incompetence and lying to the public about its own abuse of the law.

          There is no reason to flame other gun owners, or start circular firing squads here on TTAG.
          That would be typical of anti-gun troll tactics. You aren’t one of those, correct?

      • So how many times have you said, “Molon Labe!”

        How many patches do you have that state those words?

        You’ll spend a lot more than 10 years in the ground if your words have any meaning beyond internet bravado. Because we won’t have a problem prying every last one from your cold dead hands if the law demands it.

        Nut up, or shut up and sell them and be happy sitting down to piss. That’s the way I see it.

  4. Man, these guys are either a wholly incompetent gang of asshats, or they are downright malicious. Either way, it’s not good and I can’t see how they expect anyone to respect their ‘opinions’ when they assign no logic to their decisions, and do full 180’s on an entire industry on a whim. As much as I wish this were over (because I’m tired of hearing their BS ‘answers of the day’), this one really has to go to the mat.

    • “…these guys are either a wholly incompetent gang of asshats, or they are downright malicious…”

      Not mutually exclusive.

    • Listen, the President was made to look like a fool when he touched the third rail of politics that is gun control. And he got burnt. You think it’s an accident that B. Todd Jones is the ATF chief? This is an administration that coordinated plans with the DOJ and the ATF to enable cartels to get guns in the southern states and then wreak havoc with them, in the hopes that it would bolster the administration’s chances at passing gun control measures. Think about that for a second. Our president and his team made coordinated efforts to undermine the second amendment, and you ask if the ATF maliciously revoked the SIG Brace’s status? I think that question was answered a few years ago.

  5. “ATF is basing their ruling and their decisions not on the law or the technology but instead on mob rule.”

    Incorrect. They r basing their decisions by mob “questions.”

  6. Its probably employee bs. It happens in every job. People want answers, but the employee hasn’t been informed by his employers what the official policy is. However, people are pushy, they want answers, so the employee wings it and comes up with an answer so people will leave them alone.

    That said, this isn’t any other job. People could go to jail over ignorance regarding policy by a federal law enforcement agency. This is why bureaus shouldn’t be free to write their own laws. Leave it to the lawyers in congress. This sounds like a supreme court decision waiting to happen. If someone in a Bureau can decide something is legal one minute and then a felony the next minute, with out consent of the people, something is horribly wrong. I hope the ATF gets hit hard on this one.

    • Let me assure you of one thing….no federal employee will lose his paycheck. Even in our wildest dreams of dissolving the ATF, every single leech will find a new warm home on the taxpayer funded teat.

  7. Can a lawsuit from Sig and others request internal emails of ATF pertaining to the brace?
    That should be interesting reading.

    There’s still time to get some pitchforks and torches down to that booth ain’t there?

  8. People are generally idiots. It’s human nature. We never know when to let a good thing keep going. Even though we obviously knew how….. it’s called STFU.

  9. The people that man the booths at these sort of things are never the higher-ups that make the decisions. Most of the time the agents that get the short straw have little to zero practical knowledge of anything NFA related. The ATF mother-ship rarely ever tells them anything and when they do find out about something, it’s generally from a local FFL/SOT that has more interaction with the NFA in any given week then they do all year long.

  10. I was planning on converting my pistol to an SBR eventually to take advantage of the adjustable stock. Just within the next couple of years. So my pistol (with Sig Brace) is now relegated to the safe, home defense and private property. Shame because I loved it in the 2-gun competitions, as did a few other folks with similar set ups.

  11. I don’t blame people for asking questions. I blame regulatory bodies that answer to no one and essentially write law via fiat. Generally speaking, I tend to be of the thinking that it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission for most things, but this is the government we are talking about. They will ruin your life on a whim and not think twice, plus they have bottomless pockets for legal fees. If they violated your rights in the process, well ho hum no one gets fired and someone will probably be promoted. Along the same lines, I hate taxes and the IRS, but I make sure I follow the law because I don’t want to get audited or worse. The ATF, any other gun laws and regulatory bodies are idiotic, but I still tread softly around them for fear of the repercussions.

  12. I have mixed feelings about this. The general consensus seems to be something like, “we had a good thing going until somebody asked too many questions”. In my mind, the “good thing” is a repeal of the NFA and full restoration of the second amendment. The NFA is idiotic, and the BATF’s implementation is confusing. The idea that I can become a felon by simply shouldering a gun is ridiculous. I think this can turn out to be a good thing if SIG and SB follow through with the fight.

    • Repealing NFA 1934 is on the same grand scale as getting an Amendment repealed. Seriously. Not saying it’s impossible (the 21st repealed the 18th), but the smaller battles have to be won first in order to win the entire war.

      • Nope. That’s how the country got into the mess. Government wins in the long haul with tactics like that. The road to loss of Liberty is a one way route. It takes another road to get it back. There are more than one choice of road back at the People’s disposal. The only dead end for Liberty is incrementalism. It simply doesn’t work for the restoration of true freedom. Only fools and cowards seriously advocate “eating elephants” when the enemy has a bottomless stomach and virtually unlimited lifespan. It’s just kicking the can down the road as it gets ever more dented. Fools will marvel at a bone here and there thrown their way and cowards will rationalize how they are “winning” their way back. But, when the totality of individual freedom lost today is summed, we are losing. Don’t worry, when we die off, those that come after us won’t know any better and believe the same nonsense that some of you do today.

        The youth of our nation will not be un-indoctrinated incrementally. The indoctrination must stop as soon as can be accomplished. Governments won’t give up near monopoly on power incrementally. Power must me taken back in incredibly large enough portions to secure it for future generations. Keep bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon while telling yourself that the ship will be saved. I’ll be over there by the lifeboats having a martini.

  13. If mob rule is what influences their decision then WE need to bury them in letters requesting they reverse prior decisions on say suppressors and on and on …..∞

    • Honestly, if there’s one thing all bearacrats are more than corrput, its LAZY!

      We want their life will be the easiest if they leave people alone. Its time to start writing letters…

  14. “…claiming I would be contacted “after lunch””

    Expect a personal visit about 1 AM some morning. Yelling and dog-shooting may ensue.

  15. To blame gun owners for consulting the source? Sad. It implies that pretending to be a sheep will keep you safe from the wolf.

    The ATF’s policy making methods are arbitrary and capricious. Plain and simple.

    • Especially given the ATF’s stance that opinion letters are valid only for the person that they are addressed to. Given that, they should certainly expect a deluge of letters on a whole variety of NFA questions, as every firearm owner would really need their own personalized set. If the ATF doesn’t like a flood of letters, they should state that opinion letters cover everyone, and furthermore, they should publish these opinion letters publicly, just as they do for their rulings letters.

    • is this your “first time”?

      Everybody here should know by now the ATF can change rulings at a whim, even if they aren’t backed by existing law (see 5.45 7n6 import ban). They count on ruling first, and dealing with the consequences later. ATF logic 101.Why this is being treated as “recent news” by any here, I will never know. *facepalm

      Instead of having a tall glass of STFU, many gun owners thought they could show everybody their laundry and reinforce just how cool and defiant they are, posting youtube videos, etc. “oh look at me! look at my sig brace! i beat NFA!”

      Blaming the ATF is a given. Obvious.

      Dont sit there pretty, pretending that a few vocal idiots “just asking quesions” didn’t contribute to this reversal. Because they did.

      The denial here is very strong.

  16. I don’t know why all of the fuss. If it’s an arm brace, use it as such. If you want it to be placed on the shoulder, get the proper permit for that. It’s that simple.

    • It’s not about the arm brace / pistol vs sbr (okay, it’s not JUST about that).

      It’s the fact you can become a de facto criminal based on the (arbitrary and capricious) waiving of a pen.

      (and yes, government agency rules and regulations have the effect of law, like it or not)

      It shouldn’t be like this. We shouldn’t accept this. We should stand with Sig and SBT in support.

      • “It’s the fact you can become a de facto criminal based on the (arbitrary and capricious) waiving of a pen.”

        That’s the whole point. It is much easier to control you if they can criminalize anything you do.

  17. Meh you have ten thousand morons write you up all going “ummm is it OK if I do this” on somthing there’s already clear clarification on saying yes ding dongs you can do this (the brace even came with a copy of the freaking atf letter saying so) at some point your going to get tired of it and just say nope screw it yall are too fing stupid to handle it nope can’t do it any more

    • That was my biggest confusion as well, the ATF compliance letter comes with EVERY SINGLE brace, so what is the point of asking again about something you essentially already had clarification on? Not to mention plenty of videos on youtube explaining the same thing, I think the one Im trying to remember was on MAC.

      • Specifically, because an ATF clarification letter is only legal protection for the person who asked the question, as per the ATF.

        • Well imo that is just a further justification of ATF hypocrisy, lack of clarity/logic and the general lack of braincells it takes to run said .gov organization. They are the organization big gov wants and deserves at this point.

  18. Gordian Knot solution: Repeal every gun law since the 2nd amendment, eliminate the ATF.

    See? complex issue, simple solution.

  19. So by this dumb logic, we should be able to constantly send them letters asking if a suppressor and/or SBRs require a special license. They should repeatedly say yes until one day they will say no! And we win! Suppressors and SBRs for all.

    Friggin Feds. Uncle friggin Sam. Johnny friggin law. And so forth…

  20. but the agent I spoke with told me the complete opposite…


    The ATF have no idea what is going on even within their own department. They are not even familiar with their own rules. They are there to attain a paycheck and excellent benefits on our dollar. This is how government “creates” jobs. By fabricating bureaucracies out of the thin air and assigning them objects and tasks to regulate (by force of course) and charging the people fees (how else are they going to get paid). Your NFA tax stamps pay for ATF salaries. This is the ATF’s primary concern – not law, not crime. Tax stamps.

    The sig brace removes potential NFA tax stamp purchases for SBR’s. They don’t want people buying braces with no tax stamp – they do want people buying SBR’s with tax stamps. It’s about job security and “funding.”

    • I don’t believe for a minute that tax stamps pay anywhere near the salaries of the 10 guys who issue them, never mind the rest of ATF. .Gov cares nothing about money, they can steal and print as much as they want. It’s about control, and only control.

    • Money collected from NFA tax stamps does not go to the ATF. Instead, that revenue gets poured into the general fund for the U.S. government.

      It would make a ton more sense if the ATF used that money to fund their operations, but that’s not what happens. They don’t see a dime of that beyond what they get in their yearly budget.

  21. The place we should be writing letters is to Congress, to ask them to abolish the ATF by folding its functions into another agency. The FBI is not wild about ATF, and considers them cowboys. Thats why ATF didnt know that one of the people arrested was an FBI source.

    This change has been floated, and the time to do it is in 2016, when we elect a new POTUS. To make that happen the pressure and politicking will have to start now.

    I don’t know the NRAs stand on this, but they have the most access at the statehouse and congressional rep level, state by state. So that would be another place to send letters, as a paid up Member.

    Downsizing government and restoring some faith in the people enforcing gun laws would go a LONG way to undoing the damage by this POTUS and the Democrats controlling the Senate and Congress the last 6 years.

    We the Citizens are in charge of our leaders, and we have the means to hold them accountable. Litigation is fine, but that takes years, decades in some cases.

    • Or what we could do — should do — is ask them to abolish the ATF and not roll their “responsibilities” into another agency since, y’know, NO agency should have ever had those responsibilities in the first damn place!

      • Absolutely correct, the ATF has not one legitimate purpose concerning firearms. Alcohol, tobacco, explosives, OK, but I think that concerns about 1% of their workforce, and should be rolled into IRS, who just has to reassign a few workers from their criminal activities corps into real jobs, and we’re done, at a savings of billions of $$ a year.

  22. PS: It wasnt entirely clear “what kind of letters” the ATF was getting, per Nicks retelling of Alex’ recollection of what the agent told him with ATF Chief B. Todd listening intently,

    but one way to find out would be to file a Freedom of Information Act request, if possible.
    Look at the work that Judicial Watch has done getting info out of DOJ on Fast and Furious.

    If you have money to spare, donate to Judicial Watch, which is getting answers even Congress cannot, despite having to find the US Attorney General in contempt for lying and covering up.

  23. Dear BATFE,

    We no longer acknowledge your legitimacy as a government agency due to your continued disregard for Constitutional rights. Please dissolve immediately.

    United States Citizens

  24. Unconstitutional, these idiots that are called the BATF and E are not elected officials, therefore, can not enact laws in the american people, only congress can pass laws that have to be signed into law, they can not even enact executive orders on existing laws, ONLY the president can do that,

  25. Oh yes blame the victim, the American tradition. “She wanted it, she had on a tight dress!”

    You America killers over at the ATF will have your day at Nuremberg, I might not be alive to see it but I assure you it will happen. All who rule by dictate eventually share the same fate, lets see if you can hide behind your “opinions, and letters” forever.

  26. I should have gone to law school so I could answer my own questions…How can Colorado tell the Feds to pound sand on drug laws by legalizing recreational mary jane. They are basically breaking federal laws right. Why cant we also tell them to pound sand by making SBR’s and the such, legal in what ever states want to allow it without subjugating thier citizens to that pesky federal jail time. The same jail time pot growers would be likely to serve if they happen to be in another state.

  27. When I asked further questions (“why doesn’t this apply to other items with similar functions?) the agent refused to speak further and asked for my information, claiming I would be contacted “after lunch” by a PR person who was “out getting their computer fixed.” I was never contacted, and no other employees were willing to speak to me on any topic.

    Yup, you’re getting your door smashed in at 3am.

  28. They talk about putting it against the shoulder.

    What if I put it against my hip? or my chest?

    People who can make this kind of distinction have too much time on their hands.

  29. First off, B. Todd Jones should go peel Holder’s banana and suck it. Secondly, the part about foam padding on buffer tubes being a no no is disturbing.

  30. “I attempted to verify this information, but the agent I spoke with told me the complete opposite….” so, I wrote an article on alleged information that I was not present to hear, and not only could not be verified, but was countered.

    I took it upon myself to continue the fear mongering that I was so used to utilizing on my useless blog.

  31. In 1998 we wrote the lesson plans for the ATF Academy. ATF decided to adopt 60% of the training because they didn’t want to keep their people in school for so long. That explains the last 17 years of confusion.

    We formed our company to fill the gap and have been very successful. We helped a company in Southern California get their 6000 AR receiver blanks back from ATF.

    To get the whole 100% of the training, and in order to stay current and avoid committing a violation, see the online training at .

  32. For all of those blaming the tyrannical actions of the BATFE on people who wrote letters to the agency… Which is more likely… That your bitching will stop people you consider “moronic citizens” or that we, the People, can abolish the BATFE?

    I don’t consider those who wrote letters stupid but some of you apparently do. So, the stupid have always been a part of mankind and they will always be. Specific governments and their associated agencies have not and will not be. Which fight do you even stand a chance at winning; against perpetual individual stupidity or relatively transient government? And you call the letter writers morons… LMFAO!

  33. “As Alex said later, that statement is very troubling as it indicates that the ATF is basing their ruling and their decisions not on the law or the technology but instead on mob rule.”

    Sounds about right, a lot of their rulings aren’t based on law or technology. A lot of it is based on let’s see how we can claim it is illegal. It is time to get rid of the agency or at the very least strip it down to just collecting the tax stamp for NFA stuff and that is it.

  34. ” I was never contacted, and no other employees were willing to speak to me on any topic.”

    government is always the first problem, the last problem, and creates auxiliary problems to fill in when it’s on vacation/sick leave.


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