On June 10, 2021, the 90-day comment period opened for the ATF’s latest attempt to what is
believed to be in excess of 10 million stabilizing braces illegal. The 71-page document lays out a
series of criteria for determining whether or not a stabilizing brace is actually a “short barreled
rifle,” or SBR. This proposed ruling is a direct infringement to our constitutionally guaranteed
right to keep and bear arms. Whether you personally own a pistol caliber carbine or an ARpistol
with a stabilizing brace, it is vital that you get involved and let your voice be heard. It is
pistol braces today, and there is a very good chance it will be all gun magazines tomorrow,
particularly if David Chipman is confirmed as the next director of the ATF. The rest of this article
is devoted to instructing you how to submit your comments concerning this proposed ruling. If
you are concerned that they will track you and come after your pistol brace if you comment,
trust me, they already know who has them.
Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document/ATF-2021-0002-0001. This will take you to the
page that contains the new proposed ruling. Once there, click on the blue Comment button.
Click the link to review the Commenter’s Checklist. It is important that you follow the advice in
this checklist. For example, be respectful. Any use of profanity will result in the immediate
rejection of your comment, so please keep your comments civil. Be thoughtful and articulate. It
will carry more weight if you do that. Form letters or copying the exact words of another
commentor is of no real benefit. Take the points listed below and make them your own. Change
the wording, perhaps change the order, and add a few points of your own to ensure that the
government views it as being an original. There is one piece of advice given by the government
that I urge you NOT to follow. According to the Commenter’s Checklist, they suggest that, “if
you disagree with a proposed action, suggest an alternative (including not regulating at all) and
include an explanation and/or analysis of how the alternative might meet the same objective or
be more effective” (2021). By doing this, you may inadvertently give the ATF a legal means to
carry out their illegal goals, so it is best to simply explain why their proposal is illegal or invalid,
and at most, recommend that they abandon it altogether without offering an alternative.
Step Three: Points to be Refuted
Upon review of the ATF’s 71-page document, these are the points that I believe are most
important and that must be refuted:
1. It is noted in the background to the ruling that [United States v.] Miller [, 307 U.S. 174
(1939),] said the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the
time.” It is unreasonable to believe this was meant to be a fixed point in time (1939),
but rather, that a weapon in common use at a point in the future would have similar
protection. Today, the ATF concedes that there are between three and seven million
stabilizing braces in use. A single firm, SB Tactical is on record stating that they have sold
in excess of ten million braces. Indeed, a Congressional Research Service report recently
estimated that there are potentially FORTY MILLION pistol braces and pistol-braced
firearms in common use. By any definition of the term “common use,” ten to forty
million devices without a doubt represents an item in “common use” and therefore
cannot be regulated under the NFA as ruled in United States v. Miller. District of
Columbia v. Heller guarantees my Second Amendment right as an individual to keep
suitable weapons at home for self-defense unconnected to militia service. An AR pistol
with a stabilizing brace is widely recognized by experts as the singular BEST home
defense weapon available.
2. Of particular concern in the proposed ruling, the BATFE proposes to actually change the
definition of a firearm. As stated in the proposed ruling, “ATF is proposing to amend the
definition of ‘rifle’ in 27 CFR 478.11 and 479.11, respectively, by adding a sentence at
the end of each definition. The new sentence would clarify that the term ‘rifle’ includes
any weapon with a rifled barrel and equipped with  an attached ‘stabilizing brace’
that has objective design features and characteristics that indicate that the firearm is
designed to be fired from the shoulder, as indicated on ATF Worksheet 4999.” This
change to the definition of a rifle as found in 27 CFR 478.11 and 479.11 is an illegal
action, because only congress has the power to make or change law, and by adding this
sentence, the ATF is overstepping its authority. Therefore, this definitional change must
3. On December 15, 2014, the ATF issued a classification letter to Shockwave Technologies
stating the following concerning the Shockwave brace: “Based on our evaluation, FTISB
finds that the submitted forearm brace, when attached to a pistol is a ‘firearm’ subject
to the GCA provisions; however, it is not a firearm as defined by the NFA provided the
Blade AR Pistol Stabilizer is used as originally intended and is not used as a shoulder
stock.” This newly proposed ruling expressly invalidates this classification letter.
Classification letters are relied upon by both manufacturers and the general public. By
negating previously issued letters such as the one referenced above, the ATF is turning
law-abiding citizens who relied upon official ATF guidance into felons overnight. The
Shockwave blade, as submitted to the ATF, was not deemed an SBR in 2014 and this
proposed ruling should not do so now.
4. Form 4999 Section 1 Prerequisites:
A) If the weapon weighs less than 64 ounces and is stabilized, it is illegal. This
designation is an affront to disabled veterans who have reduced strength in their
shooting arm and unfairly penalizes them for their disability. Therefore, this weight
criteria is inappropriate.
B) If the weapon is less than 12 inches, it cannot be stabilized or it is illegal. Similar to
the concerns about the minimum weight criteria, the minimum length criteria is also
inappropriate due to the unfair penalization of disabled veterans or petite women.
C) Indicates that the weapon must be between 12 and 26 inches in length. An AR pistol
with an 11” barrel and a standard buffer tube is likely to come in over 26” and thus
be automatically designated as an SBR. The overall length of the firearm is not
germane to the discussion of stabilizing braces and should be removed as a
5. Section 2, Accessory Characteristics:
A) ‘‘Stabilizing braces that incorporate one or more shoulder stock design features
(e.g., adjustment levers or features that allow for the length of the device to be
varied in a manner similar to an adjustable shoulder stock, sling mounts, or
hardened surfaces) will accrue 1 point.” This factor is not appropriate because it
does not take into account the size of the person using the firearm. A woman who is
five feet tall is not going to have the same length forearm as a 6’5” man. Therefore,
the adjustable nature of the stabilizing brace is not a relevant factor. Additionally, it
is inappropriate to add a point for a sling mount. For a disabled veteran with only
one arm, the sling mount allows him or her to carry the weapon over the shoulder
while carrying something else (e.g., an ammo can) in their hand.
B) Regarding the rear surface area section, the ATF provides no example of a
‘‘stabilizing brace’’ that incorporates a “surface area feature” which clearly makes it
difficult to use as a shouldering device, and thus the device accrues zero points. If
there is no such device known to man, this designation is not applicable or relevant.
Indeed, the Shockwave blade or fin is not at all conducive to shouldering, yet it
receives a point towards the four-point scale. This device should be designated as
accruing zero points.
C) The adjustability factor is essentially “double jeopardy.” A brace that telescopes
accrues one point for accessory design and two points for adjustability. It is
inappropriate to use the same criteria twice!
D) Regarding stabilizing support, the “Fin Type without an arm strap” is ascribed 2
points (fully half of the points needed to categorized a stabilizing brace, despite the
fact that the ATF already approved the Shockwave fin brace in a letter to the
company in December of 2015. If it was deemed acceptable without an arm strap,
how can it now account for half of the points needed to classify the device as an
SBR. This incongruity is not acceptable.
E) The total possible points for a weapon in section 2 is ten, yet it takes just four points
to deem a weapon to be illegal. This is an unreasonably low hurdle.
6. Section III Configuration of Weapon
A) Regarding length of pull, this measure is entirely irrelevant, because it is both a
matter of personal preference and a matter of the physical size of the shooter’s
forearm. One shooter may prefer to have the brace close to the wrist, another may
prefer to have it closer to the elbow, and yet the second shooter will be immediately
penalized with three or perhaps even all four points necessary to designate the
device as an SBR simply for preferring the brace to be nearer to the elbow than the
wrist. This has nothing to do with whether or not a firearm is an SBR or a pistol, but
simply a matter of personal preference for comfort and stability.
B) Regarding stabilizing brace modifications and configuration, the criteria for the “Fin
type lacking an arm strap” accruing 2 points has already been used as a point of
discrimination for Section II of Form 4599. This is not appropriate and should be
removed. Additionally, it is in direct conflict with the ATF approval of the Shockwave
fin design in December of 2015.
C) Regarding peripheral accessories, perhaps the most egregious flaws in this form are
found in this section.
a. Chief among these flaws is the designation that a firearm without sights or
with IRON SIGHTS, which are found on essentially EVERY pistol, is penalized
with one point. The use of iron sights or no sights has absolutely no bearing
on whether or not a pistol with a stabilizing brace is an SBR. This criteria
needs to be eliminated.
D) The total possible points in this section number at least thirty, yet the maximum
points permitted is just four. Once again, this is an unreasonable scoring system that
is designed to fail every pistol with a stabilizing brace that is available in the market.
7. The whole point of issuing objective criteria was to give manufacturers and the public a
way to know whether or not a firearm is legal or not. However, the ATF states on form
4999 that, “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reserves: the right
to preclude classification as a pistol with a stabilizing brace for any firearm that achieves
a qualifying score but is an attempt to make a ‘short barreled rifle’ and circumvent the
GCA or NFA.” This is tantamount to claiming that the factoring criteria are irrelevant,
and the ATF will do as they please. That is an overreach of their power and authority
and is not acceptable.
If you made it this far, I trust you are motivated to submit your own comment in the Federal
Register. Please note that the website has a maximum o 5,000 characters per comment. The
comments above are just under 10,000 characters, so you would need to submit two
comments, or select the ones that are most meaningful to you.
I have heard some people lament that it doesn’t matter if they comment. I assure you, if we all
took that stance and no one commented, then without a doubt, this new ruling would be
implemented. As of this writing, there have been over 10,000 comments submitted on the
website. In order to have the desired impact, there needs to be over 500,000 comments
submitted. So now it’s time for your voice be heard, and may freedom continue to ring in the