As the Biden administration gears up to pass fresh guidance on pistol stabilizing braces, I humbly suggest that this is precisely the time to get working on legislation to remove SBRs — short barreled rifles — from the purview of the 1934 National Firearms Act.
Arguments and assertions from the DOJ / ATF / Biden administration related to pistol braces only strengthen the case that SBRs shouldn’t be subject to special scrutiny as compared to rifles with 16-inch or longer barrels.
In my comprehensive “How Does ATF’s Vague Pistol Brace Guidance Contradict Itself?” article, I went section-by-section through the draft guidance document (which, to be sure, is going to be the model for whatever comes out of the Biden White House if it isn’t simply used verbatim) and played angel’s advocate, arguing why each and every section was and is wrong, vague, inconsistent, misleading, anti-factual, self-contradictory, and/or just plain dishonest.
The Biden administration is in the final stages of drafting a regulation on firearm accessories that can be used to make pistols more like rifles . . .
. . . The firearm accessory can make pistols more accurate and deadlier. It effectively transforms a pistol into a short-barreled rifle . . .
Does your head also spin when you see the exact same people who have always banned or attempted to ban “assault weapon” features on the basis that they allow for “spraying fire” and “firing from the hip,” and have banned “Saturday Night Specials” in part due to their inherent inaccuracy now railing against pistol stabilizing braces for having exactly the opposite effect?
I’m sorry, but can y’all please decide if accuracy is a good thing or a bad thing? I’ll give you a hint: it’s good.
From Senator Dianne Feinstein’s official .gov website, on a page about her proposed Assault Weapon Ban of 2013:
A pistol grip makes it easier for a shooter to rapidly pull the trigger, facilitates firing from the hip and allows a shooter to quickly move the weapon from side to side to spray a wider range.
The pistols that the Biden administration wants to keep braceless are, you know, pistols and are equipped with, yes, pistol grips. Those same, scary pistol grips that Feinstein asserts facilitate firing from the hip and allow quickly moving the weapon from side to side.
What I’m hearing is that if, as the Biden administration and DOJ would have us believe, a pistol brace turns these pistols into rifles, which are fired from the shoulder, then they alleviate a major concern found in every passed and attempted federal and state regulation on “assault weapons” since 1994. Plus their additional 10-or-so inches added to the rear of the pistol creates a physical impediment to quickly moving the weapon from side to side.
Score one for pistol braces, then. I expect we’ll see AWB proponents advocating for braces, then? Intellectually consistent types as they are.
From the Giffords Law Center page on firearm “Design Safety Standards,” the gun control group explains why “junk guns,” AKA “Saturday Night Specials,” are so bad:
. . . Experts criticized the low quality of these guns, which were poorly constructed, inaccurate, unreliable, and widely considered inappropriate for either personal protection or sporting purposes. The State of California responded to this public safety threat in 1999 by adopting safety standards for handguns . . .
Yes, that’s correct, in their pitch for “gun safety,” the Giffords Law Center believes that accuracy is critical for a firearm to have legitimate personal protection or sporting purposes. They laud the eight states with regulations related to handgun design and safety standards, most of which have either required testing and/or a list of handguns approved for sale in that state.
For instance, Maryland’s roster of approved handguns takes into consideration ballistic accuracy as one of the factors for determining whether the gun is sufficiently safe and has legitimate utility for sporting, self protection, or law enforcement use.
To be clear, these states want accuracy, and the Giffords Law Center wants the .gov to require it. After all, accuracy is safety. Accuracy is a precursor to providing discriminate application of force, as opposed to the “spray and pray” style indiscriminate fire that is (or was?) the bogeyman of the anti-gun crowd.
The Truth is that firing a handgun proficiently and accurately is difficult. Especially a large one. A pistol stabilizing brace, through the stability provided by its additional point of contact, does, as the Biden admin suggests, make a pistol more accurate. This is a beneficial, safe, and moral thing, and even these very same people have made this perfectly clear over the last few decades.
Whether used as designed — braced against one’s forearm — or used to somehow make the pistol “more like a rifle” as the DOJ is selling, accuracy is safety and to suggest otherwise is, to put it gently, disingenuous.
You know what provides even more stability than a pistol stabilizing brace? A shoulder stock. If accuracy is good (it is) and safe (it is) and “spraying fire from the hip” is bad (sure, fine), then SBRs are better and safer and should be treated like any standard [title 1] firearm.
But, alas, they are not. The SBR, the short barreled rifle, is subject to a $200 tax, a long (nine or more months) approval process, a full-on federal registration, and restrictive ownership and transportation laws. The SBR is treated as a uniquely dangerous weapon. And an SBR is precisely what Biden’s DOJ says a brace-equipped pistol effectively can be due to its ability to be fired more accurately than without the brace.
Unfortunately for the gun control crowd, any sort of data suggesting that pistol brace-equipped pistols or SBRs are in any way uniquely dangerous simply doesn’t exist. In fact, very much the opposite! We have solid data that these guns are uniquely unlikely to be used in crime.
With at least six million pistol brace-equipped pistols in private hands, there have been two (2) known criminal acts committed with such a firearm over the last eight or more years. If you’re aware of more please link it in the comments. TTAG has, to the best of my knowledge, seen two incidents. Out of, again, at minimum six million braced pistols in peoples’ hands in the U.S.
We have even better, more, official .gov data that show SBRs are not likely to be used for criminal purposes. State and federal crime data for decades has show that rifles of all types are used in approximately three percent of murders and that about 1.3% of armed criminals are armed with any sort of rifle.
Short barreled rifles, being a tiny little fraction of the larger rifles category (yet legally owned by well over 400,000 Americans and only a hacksaw away from creation and use by any criminal), are patently not likely to be used for criminal purposes and the data very clearly bear this out.
For those who like to point to other countries as enlightened examples of what the U.S. should do or consider, allow me to note that we are the only country I know of in the world — despite the vast majority of other “Western” countries having stricter gun control laws — to regulate rifles based on barrel length. The 1934 NFA law that created these restrictions is antiquated, irrelevant, and proven to be unnecessary.
Instead of further restricting braced pistols or adding braced pistols to the NFA, we should remove SBRs from it. It’s possible, too. In December of 2019, H.R. 5289, which would have done just that, was introduced in the House. That bill was referred to multiple committees, and received 25 co-sponsors.
Let’s keep pushing. This is the permanent solution to ATF’s continued rogue actions to undermine the firearm industry, gun ownership, and the Second Amendment writ large.
Even if a remove-SBRs-from-the-NFA bill isn’t viable until after the 2022 elections, now is the time to hone our arguments, draft our bill, and drum up support. If 2022 goes our way, we need to have this bill already chambered and ready to fire.