Your pistol brace countdown starts today
In the predawn hours on Tuesday morning, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives published its final Stabilizing Braces rule in the Federal Register.
With an effective date of Jan. 31, 2023, the new 98-page rule, unless successfully challenged in the courts, will fundamentally outlaw the use of pistol stabilizing braces in their current form, instead reclassifying large format handguns so equipped with one as a short-barreled rifle to be regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934.
Federal regulators have classified the accessories since 2012 as being compliant with the NFA, and Congressional Research Service estimates run as high as 40 million braces in circulation.
“Any weapons with ‘stabilizing braces’ or similar attachments that constitute rifles under the NFA must be registered no later than May 31, 2023,” notes ATF. Alternatives include handing the firearm over to the agency, destroying it, converting the pistol to a normal rifle with a barrel at least 16 inches long, or “permanently” removing the brace so that it can’t be reattached.
The modern brace as introduced and extensively patented by SB Tactical came about after USMC and Army veteran Alex Bosco went shooting with a disabled combat vet who was having such a hard time shooting on the range that the RSO stopped him over safety concerns due to lack of control. Bosco then created the prototype for the brace in his garage and submitted the design to ATF for approval.
In a November 2012 letter from the agency, regulators at the time noted:
The submitted brace, when attached to a firearm, does not convert that weapon to be fired from the shoulder and would not alter the classification of a pistol or other firearm. While a firearm so equipped would still be regulated by the Gun Control Act … such a firearm would not be subject to NFA controls.
The new rule seems to only be popular with a minority of gun control advocates and the White House. By the ATF’s own admission, of the 237,000 comments logged over the proposed rule last year, “There were over 217,000 comments opposed to aspects of the rule.”
There are sure to be legal challenges to the new rule by firearms industry groups and Second Amendment organizations. As for SB Tactical, they said on Monday, “We are still here and have not left you. At this point, we have to let the legal team do what they have been preparing to do for a very long time. Nothing is over, and we are still in the fight. More to come soon.”