Tag Archives: National Firearms Act

The Pistol Brace Test is a Stone Cold Nightmare

With a 71-page proposed rule to clarify when attached stabilizing brace accessories convert pistols into illegal short-barreled rifles now open for public comment, we disastrously attempted to apply it.

In a test with a pair of unloaded large-format AR-style pistols, I sat down with my buddy Ben Philippi to honestly wade through the minefield of potential disqualifiers on proposed ATF Form 4999 to determine if a pistol/brace combos selected– which are legal now– would continue to be so should the rule goes into effect as-is.

And it didn’t work out very well.

The proposed rulemaking, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces” as of June 24, has 102,000 public comments.

The last day to file comments is Sept. 8.

Kafkaesque Pistol Brace Rules Released

There are between an estimated 3 and 7 million (that’s a big swing) stabilizing braces on the market right now, all of which got there after the SB15 brace was released just a decade ago. ATF has been notoriously squishy on the legality of braces, especially at the intersection of its use on a handgun to the point that it turns a pistol into an illegal short-barreled rifle or SBR. Unregistered SBRs can get you a dime in the federal hoosgow.

You sitting in the federal hoosgow, looking to trade a pack of mackerel fillet to make unwanted friends in the shower:

“What are you in for?” says the broker

“I added a plastic stock that is not a stock to my pistol and the ATF found out and, it turns out, they ruled it was a stock,” says you.

“That mack got soybean oil or water?”

“Water…”

Zipppppp

Anyway, to keep clear of just what is illegal or not, the DOJ today released a proposed rule that is so simple it has a 71-page explainer to it. It includes a new ATF form (#4999), a two-sheeter that walks you through if your pistol with a brace on it is legal, or an SBR in three easy-to-figure-out sections.

Heavier than 64 ounces and between 12 and 26 inches? Boom, just failed Section I on ATF 4999, head to Section II.

There, if you earn a maximum of three points, proceed to Section III. Have over four points, and you are out of compliance and have an extremely dangerous SBR. So dangerous it only magically becomes safe for the public to own after you pay a $200 tax and wait 10 months for the paperwork to clear. 

At Section III, you can earn a maximum of three more points to keep your brace/pistol combo legal. Four or more, which can be earned even by installing “peripheral accessories” that would show you “intend to shoulder” your pistol, such as a bipod and/or short eye relief optics, or BUIS sights and it’s an SBR even if you passed Section II.

Sounds “simple”, right?

Check out these three examples in the proposed rule. One is (barely) legal, with 3 points in both Sections II & III; the second is an SBR, with 8 and 5 points in each section, and the third is also hot with a combination of 23 points on the worksheet.

 

The thing is, the photos, to the average user, look almost identical.

It is almost as if the feds want to make it so complicated and sow so much confusion and angst over the legal use of braces that most gun owners won’t even bother in an abundance of caution.

HEYYYY-OH!

Worse, what about the average gun owner who bought one of these, legally, at their local gun store thinking it was neat or cool, then they take it to the range five years from now (the proposed rule has no grandfathering) and a picture from that trip makes it to social media and someone casually tags the ATF in it. 

Oof. 

If you are one of the 4+ million Stabilizing Brace Owners, now is your time

Federal regulators on Friday set off the starting pistol in the race to establish what stabilizing brace makers term the largest firearm registration scheme in American history. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives scheduled its proposed 15-page “Objective Factors for Classifying Stabilizer Braces” to publish Dec. 18 in the Federal Register, the official journal of the federal government, for public inspection. Americans have two weeks to provide feedback on the plan, which could be the last chance to make their voice heard on the issue before ATF moves forward.

Written comments on the ATF proposal must be postmarked by, and electronic comments must be submitted on or before Jan. 1, 2021, by midnight Eastern time. SB Tactical is also encouraging members of the public, who are concerned about the issue, to reach out to their lawmakers in Congress as well as the White House.

More background on the brace issue in my column at Guns.com here and here.

There are now over 5 million NFA items on the books, including 1.3 million suppressors

The number of National Firearm Act items saw a huge jump in the past year — including a 50 percent increase in suppressor registration and 39 percent bump in short-barreled rifles registered — according to new data released by federal regulators.

The report provides an overview of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, which is the federal list of all items, such as suppressors, SBRs, short-barreled shotguns, destructive devices and any other weapons logged under the NFA as of April, and updates figures released in February 2016.

In the 14-month period between reports, the total number of NFA items of all kinds has climbed to 5,203,489 — an overall increase of more than 800,000 items.

While the numbers of AOW’s, machine guns and SBSs all saw negligible increases, the biggest jumps in the 14-month interlude came in the numbers of registered SBRs and suppressors.

More in my column at Guns.com

Hmpf, the SHUSH Act is now a thing

So you have no doubt heard me talk about the Hearing Protection Act which would eliminate the $200 transfer tax on suppressors by dropping them from NFA rules, but still requires they should be transferred through federal firearms licensees after a background check, regulating them as firearms.

It’s got a ton of sponsors in the House ( 150+, including some Dems) but is likely to stall in the Senate where it only has enough for a serious card game and needs 60.

Well, with that in mind, last week the SHUSH (Silencers Helping Us Save Hearing) Act dropped which would not only remove suppressors from National Firearms Act requirements — a goal of the rival Hearing Protection Act — but also classify them as simple accessories which could be sold over the counter, just like magazines, or butt stocks, or just scopes. It seems odd after more than 80 years of NFA regulation, but that’s how they are sold in the UK and several other countries with gun laws more strict than ours.

Gun control groups don’t know whether to shit or go blind, saying every crook and killer in the future will have a hushable gatt– but in all honesty, you can make an illegal suppressor today from common household items anyway and they are rarely (ATF says ~30 cases in 2015) used in crime, so I’m not sure how factual that argument holds.

Anyway, more on the SHUSH Act in my column at Guns.com

And this great bit from A Scanner Darkly (who doesn’t love PKD) below, and case in point as to why you don’t want to try and suppress the average revolver.

 

About your grandpa’s old machine gun in the closet…

A Japanese Type 11 light machine gun– Kijiro Nambu’s take on the French 8mm Hotchkiss chambered in 6.5x50mm Arisaka– captured on Kwajalein Atoll in 1944 by American troops. Such guns, if not registered before 1968 and not demilled, are illegal in the U.S. (Photo: Rock Island Auction)

Many veterans legally brought back captured enemy weapons from overseas in the wake of America’s wars. Provided they had the right paperwork, some could properly register NFA items as Title II firearms before 1968. Others, who either didn’t have the paperwork or chose not to register, illegally owned their trophies after that date and often these guns are still in circulation– putting the possessor at risk of up to 10 years in prison.

Well that could change.

Legislation introduced in both chambers of Congress Tuesday would open a 180-day amnesty for veterans or their family to register guns captured overseas.

The bipartisan Veterans Heritage Firearms Act aims to allow former service members or their family to declare guns brought back to the states before Oct. 31, 1968 without fear of prosecution.

The bill would briefly open the National Firearm Registration and Transfer Record to veterans and their family to register certain firearms. The NFRTR is the federal government’s database of National Firearms Act items including machine guns, suppressors, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and destructive devices.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Hearing Protection Act ‘alive and well’

Cutaway of the Maxim Model 15 “silencer” on a 1903 mockup.

Since 1934, the federal government has treated devices designed to muffle or suppress the report of firearms as Title II devices that required registration under the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record and mandated transfers that included a $200 tax stamp. The HPA would repeal this requirement and treat suppressors as firearms – which would allow them to be transferred through regular federal firearms license holders to anyone not prohibited from possessing them after the buyer passes an FBI instant background check.

We spoke with industry insiders about the Hearing Protection Act on the eve of the 146th National Rifle Association Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Atlanta last week, who argued the measure has a fighting chance.

More in my column at Guns.com

ATF’s NFA branch moving on up

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has split its National Firearms Act branch into a separate division in hopes of providing more oversight and efficiency.

The new NFA Division will consist of an Industry Processing Branch, focusing on processing forms from the private sector, and a Government Support Branch centered on law enforcement.

The IPB will see the regulatory body dedicate an entire branch to handling the processing of consumer-directed documents including Form 1 and Form 4 applications for the making and transfer of NFA items such as suppressors, and short-barreled rifles and shotguns.

But what does this mean? I talked to the experts to find out…

More in my column at Guns.com

Hearing Protection Act ‘thwips’ past 100 sponsors in the House

ruger-10-22-rifle-with-armtac-monotube-integral-suppressor-and-hogue-overmold-stock-brand-new-assemblies-975-00

A bill that would remove suppressors and silencers from National Firearm Act regulations is picking up momentum on Capitol Hill.

The Duncan-Carter Hearing Protection Act was introduced by GOP sponsors U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina and Rep. John Carter of Texas last month and aims to deregulate suppressors as a safety measure to help promote their use in protecting hearing. Enrolled as H.R. 367, the measure picked up its 100th co-sponsor last week.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Hanging out at SHOT Show

Whelp, back from the annual gathering of the gun tribes in Las Vegas. Saw some interesting things. Did some interesting things. I think the biggest stories, besides the new SIG M17, is was the Hudson H9 and the SilencerCo Maxim 9.

Prefaced by a quiet build up over the past few weeks via social media, the H9 melds a full-sized 9mm semi-auto to a striker-fired pistol with a crisp 1911 trigger that has a .115-inch travel. But the innovative handgun with its cyberpunk panache didn’t just hatch fully formed from an egg last month.

More here.

Then there is the Maxim. The pistol, a 9mm that accepts double-stack Glock 17 magazines, can be arranged in either a short or a long configuration– both of which are suppressed. The difference in length between the two options is about an inch, with the full-size configuration measuring 10.75-inches overall and the abbreviated one taping out at 9.54-inches, which is about an inch longer than a standard 1911. Weight varies between 37-39 ounces.

More in the video below and in this piece in my column over at Guns.com.

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