Stabilizing Braces part Two by Guy De Blank

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.

Step One:

Go to This will take you to the

page that contains the new proposed ruling. Once there, click on the blue Comment button.

Step Two:

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 [15] 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

be removed.

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

Palmetto State!

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