Politics is one of my least favorite things. Its is one of the single most decisive things in our culture today. I try to steer clear of the majority of politics in this blog, but some times that isn’t possible. This is one of those times.
I’m willing to bet that you’ve probably already heard that the ATF is coming after pistol braces and 80% receivers. If you’re on YouTube and follow any gun channel, then you’ve definitely heard about it. In fact, it seems as though that’s all any one has talked about the last couple days and the drama surrounding it has unreal in some cases.
The fact of the matter is, they aren’t banning them out right, but what they are doing is equally scary.
What exactly is the BATFE doing?
I am no lawyer or legal expert, nor do I want to pretend to be one. The BATFE’s goals are, however, clearly spelled out. They wish to change how they view pistols and stabilizing braces. In the recent past we’ve seen BATFE change their minds on many previous decisions and on how the regulate things. Previously, you may remember them saying you could shoulder a brace, then change their minds, and finally change their minds again. They have a clear track record of doing this at this point.
This time they want to apply new standards as to whether or not a gun is a pistol. Having a pistol brace as opposed to a stock, under their new plan, will no longer definitively mean that a firearm is a pistol. Many other things will factor into what that firearm becomes classified as under their new “wholistic” approach.
These things include, but are not limited to length, weight, caliber, whether the design of the brace resembles a stock, optics choice, whether you use a hands stop, ect. The list is fairly expansive to say the least. There is a lot to consider and it leaves a lot more questions than answers. I think that it is fairly reasonable to ask the BATFE to come up with a clear cut list of specifications that they plan on using when considering what constitutes a pistol and their list is absolutely not it.
Open to interpretation…
The BATFE’s list of criteria is fairly ambiguous. It is open to heavy interpretation. On top of that, it doesn’t consider how an individual user might need to use the firearm, only how they think that it should be used. This could be very detrimental to people with disabilities. The scariest part is potentially that while they seemingly have categories from which to judge a firearm, we don’t have an specifics that pertain to those categories.
Lets take caliber for example. What does that mean for the AR pistol? We don’t know. Does that mean that they’re going to decided arbitrarily that 5.56x45mm is okay today, but not okay two weeks from now? How many times are they going to change their mind? They wont tell us if 5.56x45mm is even okay. Perhaps only 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP is okay. We don’t know. What about if the brace doesn’t work for the BATFE agent/employee who is examining it, but it does for an end user? The reality is that people come in all different shapes and sizes.
So how do you know if your pistol is okay? The simple answer is that you wont know without sending it in to them. They leave everything open ended. In fact, two different agents may have two different opinions or they might change their mind down the road. They are refusing to release actual specifications that they use to make a judgment on a firearm. On top of that, precedent that was set in previous court cases revolving around pistols and pistol braces is apparently not being followed in their new plan. There is no way for any of us normal people to make educated decisions based on what they have presented to us. Why would they do this? I can only speculate, but it certainly makes it hard to comply with law.
The simple solution seems to just SBR your pistols. Sounds good right? The BATFE is even talking about waiving the $200 tax associated with creating/buying an SBR. That sounds even better. They’re trying to work with you, right? That’s one way to look at it, but if you were to ask me that question, then I would answer with a hard no.
There is an absolute ton of new gun owners out there that will want to comply with law. Most gun owners are law abiding and wish to stay that way. The problem with a lot of new gun owners, but not all, is the lack of knowledge. I have seen it first hand. A lot of new gun owners don’t take the time to understand the laws that pertain to guns before they buy their first gun. You’d be blown away at how many new gun owners are blind sided and completely pissed off that they cant take their new AR15 home right away in this state. They have to wait 10 business days and that’s the law. You have to wait up to 10 business days for a pistol although you can get an approval sooner than 10 business days.
If new gun owners are having a hard time with their basic gun laws and largely don’t understand them, then I feel like throwing them head first into the NFA game is a very bad idea. What happens when a new gun owner registers their pistol as an SBR to stay compliant, but doesn’t understand the rules and crosses state lines without filing the proper paper work declaring that they are traveling with it? Its only a matter of time before people get nailed for things like that. They will be completely blind sided and the BATFE will show them no mercy. They will be prosecuted to the fullest extent that they can be.
The NFA is something that a lot of people, including myself, think should be abolished. It stands for the National Firearms Act. It was originally put in place for some very questionable reasons and in the end, never stopped crime as it was intended to. Much like gun control in general, I might add. There are a few good videos on YouTube explaining the NFA if you want to know more about it. Among my favorites is this video by T-Rex Arms.
Registering your pistol as a SBR is essentially creating an NFA Item. After all, the NFA encompasses suppressors, short barreled rifles/shotguns, machine guns, explosives, and the likes. This subjects you to a whole bunch of new rules, taxes, and regulations. As mentioned before, crossing state lines with an SBR requires paper work. That is something that could easily be missed by a new gun owner or some one not familiar with the NFA. There are other pit falls though.
I often hear people saying that they will never own a SBR or suppressor because they don’t want to register their guns/items. Well, when you have a legal SBR, then that gun is in fact registered. The push toward people with pistols to registering them as SBR’s seems like a push to get people to register their guns. The other pitfall is that this opens your house up to the BATFE. The BATFE can come to your house to check on your NFA items should they have a reason to. If they’re fishing, they’ll find things to nail you on and they’d have an open invitation to your house.
So what can you do?
If you care about your second amendment rights, then all this probably sounds pretty scary. Its almost like being caught between a rock and a hard place. You can comply as best you can even though in the end it might suck or you could go the route of civil disobedience. I’m not here to tell you one way is better than the other or what I’d do. Those are decisions that you have to make. This is why it is so important to be politically active and keep up on what is going on with the second amendment. I can tell you right now there is scary stuff that is coming up. Bloomberg and just about every anti-gun organization is getting ready for a Biden presidency. It doesn’t help that Regina Lombardo, the head of the BATFE, is also anti-gun and her agency appears to be going rogue.
The BATFE has opened period for comment on their proposed changes to how the plan on regulating pistols/braces. It is important that you act quickly and tell then what you think. I emphasize acting quickly. Under the Gun Control Act they state that these comment periods are to be 90 days, but via rule bending/breaking the BATFE has cut this comment period down to 14 days. You have until Jan. 4th to comment.
It its important to remember that if you send them vulgar comments, threats, ect, then your comments will be ignored no matter how good your arguments are. Keep your comments courteous and professional. Make sure to make your points clear and concise. That is the best way for your voice to be heard.
To both read the BATFE letter and post your comment you can do that HERE. Things may seem hopeless, but they are not. In the past these comment periods have helped greatly, especially with the past proposed M855 ammo ban. On top of that, if you wish to do more you can call your representatives and let them know what you think. Again, be courteous and professional. You can also join and support groups that fight for gun rights like the GOA, FPC, and NAGR. All are valid methods for protecting our rights. The important part is to be active and to be heard.