Recently, we published an article detailing the ATF proposed rule ‘2021R-05’, which, among other things, broadens the definition of ‘receiver’ to effectively ban 80% kits.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve read your feedback—the frustration, the uncertainty, and the concern. The changes proposed in 2021R-05 affect every American gun owner. Not just the collectors. Not just the AR-owners. The changes affect everyone, and now more than ever, gun owners need to make their voices heard.
2021R-05 isn’t the only proposed rules change either. ATF’s subsequent proposed rule, 2021R-08, is open for comment too—and this one is even more divisive than the last.
While 2021R-05 targets 80% receivers, 2021R-08 targets pistol braces. Pistol braces are an accessory that you attach to a pistol to improve its stability. Usually, these braces appear on AR-style pistols or similar large-frame pistols, but they are popular across a wide variety of handguns.
If the Department of Justice enacts 2021R-08, many braced pistols will become unregistered SBRs, making innocent Americans into criminals overnight.
That’s why we’re asking our followers to read up on the changes and join the debate by making comments through the Federal Register. It’s the MOST IMPORTANT way we can call attention to the potential impact of these rule changes.
This process only takes a few minutes of your time, and the issue is too great to ignore. To learn more about the rule change or to make a comment, read the summary and sections below. We summarize the key points you need to know about 2021R-08, along with how you can write a powerful comment to make your voices heard.
At its core, 2021R-08 has two key changes.
The first change is to change the definition of a ‘rifle’ in 27 CFR 478.11 and 479.11. Under 2021R-08, the Department of Justice will update these sections with a new sentence, which includes any weapon with a rifled barrel that is equipped with a ‘stabilizing brace’ that meets the points-based ‘criteria’ for classification as a shoulder-fired weapon.
Originally, pistol braces were designed to support combat veterans and disabled marksmen, who need more leverage to stabilize large-frame pistols. Without braces, these individuals would be unable to safely support these firearms, preventing them from enjoying one of the most popular platforms on the market.
For years, the ATF has struggled to create a specific, legal definition of a pistol brace. This definition is important because braces and stocks share many design features, and equipping a pistol with a stock without prior approval from ATF would violate the National Firearms Act (NFA). According to the NFA, if a pistol has a stock, it becomes a ‘Short Barreled Rifle’ (SBR), which must be registered with a $200 federal tax stamp.
Any individual found in possession of an unregistered SBR can be prosecuted, and NFA violations come with serious time in a federal prison along with heavy fines.
Until congress repeals the NFA, the ATF is justified in seeking a clear definition for ‘stabilizing brace’, which 2021R-08 claims to provide.
What’s not justified, however, is a spontaneous reversal that turns innocent Americans into felons—especially when those Americans followed nearly a decade of previous ATF guidelines in good faith.
The second key component of 2021R-08 is its scoring system.
2021R-08’s ‘Factoring Criteria for Rifled Barrel Weapons with Accessories’ is a scorecard to determine when a braced pistol violates federal law.
This scorecard has three sections:
II. Accessory Characteristics
III. Configuration of Weapon.
In prerequisites, the ATF specifies initial criteria that brace-equipped firearms must meet to continue with the scoring process. To pass this step, a firearm must weigh at least 64 ounces and have an overall length between 12 and 26 inches.
If a firearm passes this step, it moves on to the next section: Accessory Characteristics. If it does not pass, the brace-equipped firearm automatically receives classification as an SBR.
Since an AR15 pistol with an 11.5-inch barrel is longer than 26 inches from the factory, a large percentage of braced pistols will fail instantly.
II. Accessory Characteristics
If the braced pistol passes pre-requisites, the ATF will consider accessory characteristics of the pistol brace itself. These characteristics include “accessory design”, “rear surface area”, “adjustability”, and “stabilizing support.”
Each characteristic comes with a list of possible features, and each feature has a point value. For example, if the brace is adjustable, it earns two points. If the rear surface is useful for shouldering, that’s another two points.
With all characteristics combined, a pistol can score up to 10 points, but it only takes four or more points to fail Section II and receive classification as an SBR.
III. Configuration of Weapon
In this section, the ATF assesses whether the firearm is ‘intended’ for one- or two-handed shooting—even though two-handed grip is standard behavior for ALL pistols. Here, scoring characteristics include “Length of Pull”, “Attachment Method”, “Stabilizing Brace Modifications/Configuration”, and “Peripheral Accessories”.
Again, each characteristic has features, and each feature has a point value. A longer length-of-pull (i.e. the distance from the trigger to the rear of brace) nets more points, as does the inclusion of a folding adapter, PDW-type guide rails, or an adjustable rifle buffer tube.
Interestingly, the ATF adds points for peripheral attachments too. That means the legal status of a firearm can change depending on parts and accessories that have absolutely nothing to do with its brace, weight, or barrel length.
For example, a ‘handstop’ earns you two points. You will also get points for any bipod or monopod, back-up sights, or any reflex sight with a magnifier. You’ll even take points for an absence of sights, meaning you can also become a felon by NOT adding accessories.
Any “secondary grip” earns four points by itself—enough to reach felony status on its own. Naturally, the definition of secondary grip is not stated, except that it ‘indicates’ two-handed fire.
Perhaps the most curious peripheral is the “Presence of Sight/Scope with Eye Relief Incompatible with one-handed fire.” Like the secondary grip, this feature earns a staggering four points automatically, which instantly triggers a felony. The rule provides no explanation of what ‘incompatible eye relief’ means.
As an optics manufacturer, we’re quite curious.
Regardless, if the firearm scores four or more points in Section III, it is classified as an SBR (requiring registration and taxation under the NFA).
Critics have already pointed to the scorecard’s subjectivity and inconsistency. Many of its features are subject to interpretation, and the scoring is often incongruous and overly punishing.
As written, few AR pistols will pass this scorecard without modification—and more problematically, the overly subjective nature of this scoring system will place law-abiding Americans in a place of immense uncertainty.
If implemented, 2021R-08 will effectively convert most braced pistols into SBRs. Very few braced pistols—especially once outfitted with common accessories like sights and handstops—will pass this ‘test,’ and the impact will be sweeping.
ARs and other large-frame pistols are popular, and over the last few years, countless Americans have made the investment into such pistols for either recreation or personal defense.
If the Department of Justice implements 2021R-08, everyone with a braced pistol will have to carefully evaluate their setup or risk violating federal law. Popular braces will likely disappear, replaced with inferior feature-free braces that provide minimal support to those who need it most.
Since this rule change isn’t heavily publicized, most Americans are unaware of its impact. Even after implementation, many gun owners will violate the law without knowing it.
How to Stop 2021R-08
The risks of 2021R-08 are significant.
Thankfully, lawmakers are taking notice, and many have called for galvanized support against the rule change.
Right now, the best thing you can do to fight 2021R-08 is comment.
When proposing a rule change, the Department of Justice must collect feedback from the public. This feedback can be very influential to politicians and bureaucrats, who choose actions based on public opinion. Comments are an important barometer for these hot-button issues, and we want this issue to be at the top of their talking points.
If you’re ready to make your voice heard, we invite you to comment using the form on the federal register.
When making your comment, follow these guidelines:
1) Focus your feedback on 2021R-08’s issues specifically. Do not talk about other regulations. If you talk about other rules or regulations, your comment may be discarded.
2) Use your REAL name. Anonymous comments get discarded. We understand that some will be unwilling to put a name to their comment, but real names are important in representing the full scale of our community.
3) Keep it clean. Excessive vulgarity gets discarded. Expletives may sound powerful, but you’re just deleting yourself from the conversation. Instead, try to convey your strong opinions with family-friendly vocabulary.
4) Keep it sharp. You don’t need to write a novel here. Keep it short and digestible, attacking the issues that you think are most significant to this specific rule change. Talk about the impact in different ways: financial, legal, societal, etc.
5) Spread the word. Once you’ve commented, spread the word. Most Americans are unaware of this change and its potential impact. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Make it clear how this rule change will affect them and others—and why they need to comment on it. If you can get even one other person to comment, you’ve already multiplied your impact.
Click Here To Make Your Voice Heard Now