Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitprop shop, The Trace, is trumpeting the fact that if the Biden administration’s pistol brace proposed regulatory rule ever becomes ATF policy after the public comment period and process is complete, the federal firearms regulatory agency won’t be able to keep up with the demand to register the millions of braces that are owned by people who never signed up for the expense and bureaucracy of NFA regulation when they bought them.
The Trace, of course, frames this as due to a chronic lack of resources — read: federal tax dollars — going to the ATF. In their wold view, we can’t possibly devote enough money to the job of regulating civilian firearms. And the fact that the ATF never seems to have enough money is all part of a deep dark conspiracy by the gun industry and their minions in D.C. to hamstring the regulator.
But Mike’s minions build their prediction of NFA gridlock on one very big assumption. They’re expecting that the millions of owners of brace-equipped pistols will 1) hear about the regulatory change, and 2) choose to comply with it. Registration will include paying a mandatory $200 tax for each brace, an amount that’s more than most of them paid for them in the first place.
The rules, which were proposed in June, would bring stabilizing braces under the purview of the National Firearms Act, an 87-year-old law that imposes tight restrictions on machine guns, silencers, rifles with short barrels, and other weapons deemed by Congress to pose an acute threat to public safety.
If the rules come into force, gun owners seeking to attach a stabilizing brace to their pistol would have to obtain approval from the ATF’s NFA Division. That process can stretch more than a year and entails filing an application, undergoing extensive vetting, paying a $200 tax, and registering the weapon with the federal government. Violations can result in a 10-year prison term.
Mark Jones, a former ATF special agent who held various supervisory positions before retiring in 2011, said the rule change could trigger an avalanche of NFA applications for a division that is underprepared.
“ATF’s been so poorly funded and resourced over the decades that it doesn’t have the people it needs,” Jones said. “If they just snapped their fingers and said, ‘Tomorrow all of you have to register these weapons or you’re felons,’ it would fail in a huge way.”