ATF – You will likely have heard that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has reversed a previous ruling that determined that the popular AR pistol “stabilization” braces are now illegal and turn a “pistol/other” into a “short-barrel rifle” and is thus required to be registered and taxed. First, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives should be considered a store, not a branch of the government, but I digress. I could also argue the Constitutionality but that too would be a bit outside the scope of the blog.
So, what does that mean for you, the law-abiding John Q. Public, if you had purchased such weapons or retained them in your possession?
Well, it’s very hard to say, because it is muddied.
The first option is to do what the letter of the law says (legally) and register your weapon, which will take several months, could cost you some extra money ($200 for the stamp), and knowing that you are in the possession of an NFA item without the permit for it, or approval and are now on the BATFEs radar.
I am not a lawyer, but that to me seems to be a very poor choice, because if they disapprove of your owning it (which they can do) you are now required to give them your weapon because…. you can’t own what you already owned but can’t because they said so. Yeah.
The second option is to disassemble the weapon, get a different upper and stock and go about your merry business. This costs more money ($400ish) but in the end, you retain your firearm, and you don’t run the risk of getting into additional trouble. Also, this has the benefit of when this gets brought to the courts, there is a high likelihood this will be overturned because of the DECADE of them saying it was fine, and you could shoulder them, and other stances. This is similar to bump stocks that were in common usage and determined were not a firearm and therefore out of the purview of the BATFE.
Third you keep doing what you are doing and don’t say squat. This does have its risks, as you are currently breaking their ruling (not a law) and could be added to a potential case against you. God, forbid you use this at a range or use it in a home defense and you are now seen as using your “illegal” firearm to practice/kill an intruder. Not a good look, and not great to end up behind bars for.
So, this brings up another topic, and that is…why have they been in the first place? I have said in the past that there is VERY limited use for them. If you look at the standard 5.56 out of a shorter barrel (say 7 inches) most of the powder isn’t even burned off yet so you get the pleasure of night blindness or burning the eyebrows off of your target at the same time. The round also loses a ton of accuracy over distance, and velocity is greatly reduced, which could affect your expansion of hollow point rounds.
It is a bit different in 9mm/10mm/45ACP AR pistols as most of their respective barrels are much shorter, so they do see a marked increase in accuracy and velocity performance. You also have better control compared to the standard handgun because you can/could shoulder it. Additionally, it offers the ability to put a red dot sight, lights, and other accessories for a home defense setup, something that is a lot harder to do on a 1911.
I can’t tell you what to do, but I would tell y’all to sit tight, and whatever you plan on doing, keep your mouth shut. Unfortunately, we don’t know how froggy this administration is to start the no-knock raids over things like this, so my advice is to comply with the law unless you are prepared to deal with the consequences and keep your powder dry.
Author: Ian Bolser