Tag Archives: NRA

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.

Go ahead, spitball how many guns are in circulation

Of course, this is a moving target and in most cases would be considered something of a wild ass guess in most cases, but the NSSF, working with industry and regulatory data for the past couple of decades, came up with some interesting figures when it comes to the number of guns in private circulation in the U.S.

The big numbers: 434 million firearms, 20 million “modern sporting rifles” such as AR-15s, and 150 million magazines which are considered in eight or nine states to be “high capacity.”

Oof.

More in my column at Guns.com.

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

The best smart gun on the market is easily hacked

The German Armatix iP1 pistol, a personalized handgun design (smart gun), has gotten a lot of flack since it was introduced. While I bumped into the inventor (a guy who came up with a bunch of innovations while working for HK over the years) at a range a couple years ago, and have called, written and emailed Armatix at both their California office and in Germany for months, they won’t talk to me. Also, even though I have tried my best, I have never been able to handle one.

I did talk to a guy who had one in his possession for a long time in 2015 and he wasn’t impressed– telling me with an RF detector he could find the signal, turn it on and off, replicate it and do it all remotely as well as straight up hot wire it by taking the rear portion of the grip off and bypassing the electronic lock altogether, so that if someone who steals the firearm can simply take the back strap off, splice two wires, and the entire “smart” mechanism is disabled.

Well, low and behold, fast forward two years and a security researcher told Wired he was able to jam the radio frequency band (916.5Mhz) and prevent the gun from firing when it should, extend the authentication radius of its RFID puddle, and even defeat the electromagnetic locking system altogether with a simple $15 magnet placed near the breechblock. (More on that here).

So I sent that to the trade organization for the firearms industry to find out what they thought of it.

Their response 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

Could the NICS appeals backlog be next?

With signs that a historic swell in gun sales and associated background checks may be tapering, the federal government may soon tackle a logjam of denial appeals.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System is currently working voluntary appeals dating back to August 2015 — for individuals denied 18 months ago. However, it hasn’t always been like that. In September 2015, the average delay was three months.

The change came when the nearly 70 examiners dedicated to appeals were reassigned to assist in running initial criminal background checks because of surges in gun sales in October 2015. Since then the delay has grown, despite executive action to expand NICS’s workforce to meet increasingly robust sales figures, leaving appeals to stagnate.

But that could all be changing.

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.

Armatix, redux

the-new-armatix-ip9-smart-gun-will-be-headed-to-the-states-in-2017

After a rocky start, the niche German firearms company specializing in personalized handguns (i.e. “smart guns”) is bringing a 9mm version and a vow they are not aiming “to replace conventional guns.”

The company’s first offering burst on to the scene in early 2014 with the iP1, a $1,300 .22LR that needed to pair to an RFID-equipped wrist watch to be able to fire. Armatix convinced firearms dealers in California and Maryland to offer the gun on a limited basis but both stores quickly recoiled after backlash from the Second Amendment community without selling any.

Although officials in states with sticky smart gun mandates held the iP1 would not trigger their dormant law, the company was left with 5,000 unsold high-dollar pistols and began to shift course towards a potentially more acceptable 9mm version marketed to police.

Then in 2015, news came that the small 30-employee company parted ways with Ernst Mauch, the engineer who helped found the thus-far unsuccessful venture and entered into Chapter 11-style corporate restructuring even as their chief executive in the U.S.  publicly gaffed on firearms safety and the National Rifle Association tested the gun and found it lacking. (No agenda there, right?)

Now, Armatix’s current CEO and President Wolfgang Tweraser is ready to move forward with their iP9 9mm gun which will be available in mid-2017 along with the legacy iP1.

More in my column at Guns.com

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