Skip to main content

ATF Banning Arm Braces for Pistols?

ATF is currently considering a ban on certain pistol braces that could make close to one-million law-abiding Americans felons overnight.

ATF Banning Arm Braces for Pistols?
Photos by Sean Utley

With a Republican in the White House and Senate majority, many U.S. gun owners feel like we are in “safe” times for 2020 in terms of gun bans. According Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), that confidence may be naïve. According to Gaetz, a new ban is in the works behind closed doors.

Gaetz has been a staunch defender of the Second Amendment since his days in the Florida House of Representatives. He has quickly grown to prominence in Congress as a strong voice for gun owners. On his June 16, 2020, “Hot Takes” podcast, Gaetz announced that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE, also known as “ATF”) was secretly implementing a ban that would affect hundreds of thousands of U.S. gun owners.

Gaetz outlines the secret-ban proposal in a letter to BATFE Acting Director Regina Lombardo, co-signed by six other members of Congress. “We understand that ATF is currently considering restricting one arm brace model,” Congressman Gaetz writes along with six other members of Congress. “We strongly urge ATF to cease taking any actions and reconsider or rescind any secret determinations which call into question the legality of firearms owned by millions of law-abiding Americans.”

ATF Banning Arm Braces

The proposed ban applies to certain pistol braces, which had been previously blessed by BATFE as lawful accessories. Though the waters have been muddied a bit over the past decade by a series of letters issued by BATFE, it is generally accepted that pistols with arm braces attached are not considered short-barreled rifles (SBRs), which would subject them to registration under the National Firearms Act (NFA). According to Gaetz’s letter, BATFE has begun enforcement of a standard that declares brace-equipped pistols with a length-of-pull of more than 13.5 inches are SBRs. The letter states that BATFE is “currently considering restricting one arm brace model owned by more than 700,000 Americans, despite it being no different in function from the more than ten arm brace designs already approved by ATF.” And now the scary part: “Were ATF allowed to proceed with issuing this determination letter or others, close to one-million law-abiding Americans could be made felons overnight.”


ATF Banning Arm Braces

As we warned readers in the April 2019 issue of G&A, President Trump’s December 2018 “bump stock” ban set a dangerous precedent for administrative gun bans. That administrative rule made “bump stocks” into machine guns overnight. If you own a “bump stock” now, you’re committing a felony that could land you in federal prison. That wasn’t the first time that such a ban was applied to legally owned firearms or accessories by executive fiat, though. In March 1994, the “Striker 12,” “Streetsweeper” and SPAS-12 shotguns were declared “Destructive Devices” by the BATFE, requiring registration or surrender. Anytime that legally owned property becomes contraband without legislative action or fair-and-open debate, the spirit of our republic is being violated.


ATF Banning Arm Braces

Congressman Gaetz shares our concern on bans implemented without the sunshine of public debate. “ATF is making it very difficult for people to have arm braces. They’re changing standards and changing rules.” Gaetz continues, “And I am particularly frustrated when our government, at the administrative and executive level, goes beyond their grant of authority in our Constitution and in our Federal Statutes. Nothing gives anyone at ATF the ability to constrain the use of arm braces.”

ATF Banning Arm Braces

Arm-brace users might already be unknowingly breaking the law. Gaetz letter demands that BATFE clarify what criteria is used to determine whether a firearm is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder. The letter also asks BATFE’s acting director what publications are available for Americans to determine whether their firearm might be affected by such a ban. Finally, the inquiry asks how often BATFE has evaluated arm braces for criminal prosecutions.

Time will tell how this issue will play out, but the message is clear: If this can happen during President Trump’s administration, what might BATFE do under a President Biden administration?

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Benelli Lupo ATR

Benelli Lupo ATR

Quality. Art. Design. History. Precision. Innovation. Family. Passion. Love. These words come to my mind when describing anything Italian, and the same is true for a product bearing the name “Benelli.”

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

At the heart of the rifle is the Model 2020 action which wish designed and built with very tight tolerances thanks to Springfield's technology-driven manufacturing capabilities The stainless steel action features an integral recoil lug, and pairs with a fluted bolt employing dual cocking cams and an enhanced extractor for high pressure loads. The blueprinted and precisely machined action allows Springfield to offer the Model 2020 with .75" MOA accuracy guarantee. Despite being a production rifle, the Model 2020 should rival more expensive custom builds.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and deer; here's everything you need to know to make it work for you..350 Legend Cartridge: Everything You Need to Know Rifle

.350 Legend Cartridge: Everything You Need to Know

Tom Beckstrand - April 02, 2019

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and...

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions. Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light Accessories

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 24, 2020

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick...

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light takes on EDC illumination segment.Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look Tactical

Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look

Jeremy Stafford - September 10, 2020

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light...

The Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm has a unique and versatile multiple-­zero system and an erector assembly unlike any other on the market. The Z5(i) is an excellent choice for an all-­around hunting scope.Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm Scope Review Optics

Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm Scope Review

Tom Beckstrand - September 09, 2020

The Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm has a unique and versatile multiple-­zero system and...

See More Trending Articles

More 2nd Amendment

ATF is currently considering a ban on certain pistol braces that could make close to one-million law-abiding Americans felons overnight.ATF Banning Arm Braces for Pistols? 2nd Amendment

ATF Banning Arm Braces for Pistols?

Guns & Ammo Staff - June 25, 2020

ATF is currently considering a ban on certain pistol braces that could make close to...

Unless something significant happens, it is very possible that we will wake up on November 13, 2020, with a Democrat President-elect, an increased Democratic majority in the House and, if things go really bad, a Democratic majority in the Senate.2020 Election – Worst-Case for Gun Owners 2nd Amendment

2020 Election – Worst-Case for Gun Owners

Guns & Ammo Staff - July 08, 2020

Unless something significant happens, it is very possible that we will wake up on November 13,...

Though the Brady Act lapsed with the creation of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS) in 1998, many state-­level restrictions remain on the books. But do they work?Do Waiting Periods Prevent Crime? 2nd Amendment

Do Waiting Periods Prevent Crime?

Keith Wood - March 20, 2020

Though the Brady Act lapsed with the creation of the National Instant Criminal Background...

See More 2nd Amendment

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now