“We understand that ATF is currently considering restricting one arm brace model owned by over 700,000 Americans,” says Congressman Gaetz (R – FL). While this sounds like yet another cruel 2020 plot twist, TTAG spoke with Alex Bosco, CEO of SB Tactical (creator of the original Pistol Stabilizing Brace and the 800-lb gorilla in the space, both in sales and in legislative muscle). He explained that this is actually good news.
But first, the scary stuff! See Congressman Gaetz’s press release for the complete story, but here are a couple of important snippets:
Congressman Matt Gaetz announced today on his podcast the ATF is crafting secret rules restricting the possession of certain pistol braces by American citizens…
…But now, what we find, is that the ATF is making it very difficult for people to have arm braces. They’re changing standards and changing rules.
Rep. Gaetz has reacted to this by sending what I can only assume are two very strongly-worded letters to the ATF demanding that they knock it off and to the DOJ asking for a review of the ATF’s decision-making.
But here’s the important part from his press release:
…[Congressman Gaetz] is concerned about the ATF’s practice of creating secret regulation, which could have devastating impacts on law-abiding citizens.
This is the crux of why Rep. Gaetz’s story is good news for the black collar community, despite looking like quite the opposite at first glance.
SB Tactical CEO Bosco explained to TTAG that nothing has changed at ATF since about 2015 regarding pistol braces. There is no new push for restrictions on arm braces; this is the same push that has been ongoing.
Here’s SB Tactical’s official statement on the matter:
Although this may seem alarming, it is, in fact, nothing new. Since 2015, SB Tactical has been actively engaged in discussions with the ATF and working tirelessly to encourage them to provide clear and public guidance regarding what constitutes a brace and the standards by which braces are measured. At this time, we are unaware of any plans by the ATF to make any announcements regarding Pistol Stabilizing Braces. We are grateful that Congressman Matt Gaetz, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Daniel Webster, Neil P. Dunn, W. Gregory Steube, and Ted S. Yoho are committed to protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.
So, what has changed that led Rep. Gaetz to publish this notice? Congress has taken notice. They are looking into the ATF’s practice of arbitrarily, suddenly, and “secretly” (in so far as they make no public mention) creating and changing firearms regulations…and then attempting to prosecute based on these rules.
For instance, the 13.5-inch length of pull maximum for pistol braces that nobody knew was a thing and led to the prosecution of this guy. Congress is finally doing a deep dive and finding out exactly why we’ve been complaining about the ATF and why we’ve been contacting our representatives about them. They have apparently now seen how this alphabet agency legislates by fiat, creating secret, unpublished rules and then using them to go after law-abiding citizens.
This sort of behavior — bureaucratic agencies effectively creating laws rather than implementing or enforcing them — is precisely what this 2019 Executive Order from President Trump is designed to prohibit. Here’s a Bloomberg article (sorry) summarizing the purpose of it and another, similar EO signed on the same day.
Worse than simply creating new rules is the fact that they often exist solely in agency-internal memos. The public isn’t notified of the rules (let alone given a public comment period, such as what happened with the proposed M855 ammo ban), yet the agency attempts to actively enforce them on otherwise law-abiding folk with no intention or knowledge of breaking the law.
Imagine if speed limits were like this, set by some faceless agency — but only internally — so drivers have no way of knowing what the speed limit is on any given road. Yet they’re liable for violating the limit and ticketed when they do. Now imagine, as is the case with many of these ATF rules, that the charge for such a violation is a 10-year federal felony.
Mr. Bosco is more deeply involved in the politics and legalities of pistol stabilizing braces than anyone. He’s in DC regularly and SB Tactical and their attorneys (most notably Mike Sullivan…yes, that Mike Sullivan, former Director of the ATF) are in direct, frequent communication with the top brass of the ATF and the ATF’s legal team.
So when Bosco says he isn’t aware of any pending announcements relating to new pistol brace regulation and that, based on what he’s aware of today, the only change here is that Congress has finally taken notice of the ATF’s regulatory antics, I believe it. And it’s about time.