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

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For others, the debate goes on. In this segment of “Cameras Don't Lie,” competitive shooters Patrick Sweeney and Jim Tarr head to the range to put the vaunted loads on record, and then consider the footage.

Savage Arms Impulse Rifle with Straight-Pull Action

Savage Arms Impulse Rifle with Straight-Pull Action

Savage introduces a must-shoot straight-pull rifle, the Impulse, with three hunting configurations.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Don't underestimate the fun factor.Review: Remington V3 TAC-13 Shotguns

Review: Remington V3 TAC-13

Brad Fitzpatrick - March 08, 2019

Don't underestimate the fun factor.

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review Handguns

Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review

James Tarr - April 17, 2019

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.

Savage introduces a must-shoot straight-pull rifle: the Impulse.Savage Arms Impulse Rifle - First Look Rifles

Savage Arms Impulse Rifle - First Look

Joe Kurtenbach - January 05, 2021

Savage introduces a must-shoot straight-pull rifle: the Impulse.

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...

See More Trending Articles

More 2nd Amendment

The Big Three social-media platforms are the most influential information sources — ever, and that unprecedented influence is being wielded against the 2nd Amendment and all of us.Big Tech Attacks the 2nd Amendment 2nd Amendment

Big Tech Attacks the 2nd Amendment

Keith Wood - December 09, 2020

The Big Three social-media platforms are the most influential information sources — ever, and...

Under federal law, a license is not required to make a firearm for your personal use.Ghost Guns: Why Antis Want Them Banned 2nd Amendment

Ghost Guns: Why Antis Want Them Banned

Keith Wood - December 10, 2020

Under federal law, a license is not required to make a firearm for your personal use.

Gun owners beware of coming attacks on the Second Amendment.Democrats Gain Full Control 2nd Amendment

Democrats Gain Full Control

Keith Wood - January 06, 2021

Gun owners beware of coming attacks on the Second Amendment.

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