The ATF’s proposed rule for determining whether a firearm is a stabilizer-braced pistol or a short-barreled rifle is open for comments. It was published in the Federal Register yesterday, as Docket No. 2020R–10. But searching regulations.gov may or may not turn up the docket.
There it is…published as Docket ID: ATF-2020-0001 Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces”.
Please note that the deadline for comments is January 4, 2021, meaning that they have only allowed all of 18 days for comments, not the usual 30 (or more).
As always with All The inFringements, the rule is a mess.
“The objective design features ATF considers in determining whether a weapon with an attached ‘‘stabilizing brace’’ has been ‘‘designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder’’ include, but are not limited to:”
- Type and Caliber
- Weight and Length
- Length of Pull
- Attachment Method
- Stabilizing Brace Design Features
- Aim Point
- Secondary Grip
- Sights and Scopes
- Peripheral Accessories
Including length of pull is a biggy. By starting with the assumption that length of pull — the distance from the trigger to the rear of the stock — is part of their test and matters, it appears the ATF considers all braces to be stocks until proven otherwise.
But none of that really matters because . . .
No single factor or combination of factors is necessarily dispositive, and FATD examines each weapon holistically on a case-by-case basis.
That’s fancy language for we know it when we see it and we’ll let you know when we do. In other words, there are no specific, “objective factors” for determining when a pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace will be considered a short-barrel rifle.
Your favorite FPC attorney Bill Sack has an important message about the “Rule of Lenity.” Now what is the rule of lenity and how does it affect you? Watch the video and shoutout your favorite executive agency that has violated this rule in the comments below!#FPC #2A #RKBA pic.twitter.com/6GaBYTElpc
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) December 19, 2020
An objective definition of pistol brace would be something like . . .
A device designed to aid a user in holding a large pistol with one hand, which extends no further than the user’s forearm when gripping the firearm normally, and which conforms to the user’s forearm.
And that’s just what I told them in my comment:
The ATF has not presented any “objective factors” to determine whether a pistol-braced firearm is a pistol or short-barreled rifle.
“No single factor or combination of factors is necessarily dispositive, and FATD examines each weapon holistically on a case-by-case basis.”
That is no more than fancy language for Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s infamous, “I know it when I see it.”
That statement would appear to leave us precisely where we are now: at the mercy of a proven arbitrary and capricious federal agency bound to infringe upon the Second Amendment. But it is really worse than that. By including “length of pull” in the “factors,” the ATF starts with the assumption that a braced firearm is a short-barreled rifle until and unless it is proven otherwise.
An objective definition of pistol brace would be: A device designed to aid a user in holding a large pistol with one hand, which extends no further than the user’s forearm when gripping the firearm normally, and which conforms to the user’s forearm.
What will you be telling them?