Pistol Braces: A Test for Freedom

Project ar15 Sep 09, 2023
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A True Test for Freedom in the Fight for Pistol Braces

The right to bear arms, as enshrined in the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, is a Natural Human Right and an essential element of individual freedom and self-defense. In recent years, pistol braces have emerged as a valuable innovation for firearms enthusiasts, providing increased stability and control. This article explores the brief history of pistol braces, their conception, and the significance of the Second Amendment in safeguarding their rightful use.

The Conception of Ar15 Pistol Braces

The idea of pistol braces can be traced back to the early 1990s when a U.S. Army veteran and disabled firearms enthusiast named Alex Bosco faced a dilemma. Suffering from an arm injury, Bosco found it challenging to handle certain firearms effectively, particularly AR-15 pistols. In response, he designed the original Stabilizing Brace to be attached to his pistol, providing support and stability.

Seeing the potential benefits, Bosco sought to share his creation with others who faced similar difficulties. In 2012, he founded SB Tactical, a company dedicated to manufacturing pistol braces for the public. This innovation gained popularity among not only disabled shooters but also everyday gun owners who recognized the advantages of improved handling, stability and accuracy.

ATF's Open Letters and the Misinterpretation Issue

Over time, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) issued open letters addressing the use of pistol braces, which caused some confusion among gun owners. One such letter, issued in 2015, stated that "shouldering" a pistol brace could potentially turn the firearm into an unregistered short-barreled rifle (SBR), subject to additional regulations. 

However, it is essential to note that these open letters have not been without controversy. Many gun owners argued that the ATF's interpretation of "shouldering" was overly restrictive, as it implied that a simple change in how a user held their firearm could suddenly redesign it into an SBR. This interpretation effectively made law-abiding gun owners unwitting felons for using a device designed to be legally compliant. Even though the user was merely enhancing their stability and control during shooting, as it was intended, designed and approved for. It was argued that the ATF's stance was ambiguous and subjective(Which is a Key point we'll discuss). Many gun owners and legal experts contended that shouldering a pistol brace did not fundamentally alter the firearm's design or function. Critics of the ATF's position argued that an unintended use of an accessory does not redefine its intended purpose. And that the intent of the stabilizing brace remained the same, irrespective of how a user held the firearm while firing.

In 2017, the ATF issued an open letter addressing the use of pistol stabilizing braces and their classification under the National Firearms Act (NFA). The letter sought to provide further clarification on the ATF's position regarding the use of pistol braces and their potential reclassification as short-barreled rifles (SBRs). The 2015 letter had previously raised questions among gun owners and Second Amendment advocates about the ATF's interpretation of shoulder use potentially turning a pistol equipped with a brace into an SBR.

In this 2017 open letter, the ATF admitted that the mere use of a stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock, i.e., shouldering the brace, does not, by itself, alter the classification of a firearm. The ATF recognized that the brace's intended purpose remained unchanged regardless of how it was used during firing.

In addition to the ATF acknowledging that an unintended use or misuse of a pistol stabilizing brace does redesign or reclassify the brace; The ATF aimed to clarify that pistol braces were designed as aids for disabled shooters and to enhance stability for all users, while still adhering to existing firearms regulations.

In 2021 the ATF issued their proposed rule change for pistol braces and factoring criteria via a point system for their classification of Ar pistols equipped with a brace. Including the addition of a scope or red dot (which many other pistols have.) The overall weight of the fire arm and length of pull. Too many points and it is considered an illegal SBR requiring registration with the ATF.

When the text of the final rule came out in 2023, the factoring criteria or point system has been scrapped. Which is another legal issue. When the initial rule was put online for public commenting the point system was included and when the final proposed rule was issued no such point system existed thereby giving the public a false indication of the rule. Essentially misleading the public. This alone should have rendered the rule invalid. For it is not the rule they issued for comment. The omission of this point system essentially made ALL Ar15s under 16" with stabilizing braces illegal SBRs.

This rule is devoid of logic and reasoning. The Intent of an item is inherent in it's design, not the application of the user. Otherwise if you DIDNT shoulder your rifle length Ar15 that would also "reclassify" it. An absurd notion. Another point is that shouldering (the act ATF is claiming redesigns Ar pistols into SBRs) doesn't actually make the weapon more lethal or dangerous. It has NO effect on the expulsion of the projectile. In fact, as we've discussed in our article Ar15 Barrel Length and Construction (project-ar15.com) projectiles shot from a short barrel have LESS velocity. 

Organizations such as FPC (firearms policy coalition), GOA (Gun Owners of America) and Maxim Defense would not accept this final rule as it CLEARLY violates the Constitution of the United States and the Second Amendment. Lawsuits had already been pre-filed before the final rule had been issued. Later after judicial review, an injunction was put in place to protect these companies and their members until the issue could be resolved through the court system or by congress. 

These arguments brought to the courtroom are complex and many. The ATF argues for Chevron Deference. Which refers to the doctrine of judicial deference given to administrative actions. This gives the governing agency authority as long as their interpretation of a statute is rational or reasonable. Conversely, opponents to the final rule invoke the Rule of Lenity. Which maintains that if an interpretation has a criminal legal consequence, anything unclear or ambiguous is to be applied in a way most favorable to The People, not the enforcement agency.

The Second Amendment's Relevance

The Second Amendment was crafted to protect the individual's right to keep and bear arms, ensuring the preservation of liberty and the ability to defend oneself and loved ones. The spirit of the Second Amendment emphasizes the importance of an armed populace, able to respond to threats, whether they be from criminals or tyrannical governments.

Pistol braces fall well within the scope of the Second Amendment as they empower law-abiding citizens to effectively wield their firearms for self-defense. They do not fundamentally alter the nature of a firearm nor should they be subjected to regulation based on an individual's grip or stance.

The Future of Pistol Braces

Pistol braces are a testament to American innovation, born out of a desire to accommodate disabled individuals while enhancing firearm stability for all gun owners. The ATF's open letters may have caused some confusion, but it is crucial to recognize that a misuse of an item does not redesign it or alter the intent for which it was made. And with recent victories in federal court, vacating unconstitutional executive orders on bump-stocks and frames/receivers; The outcome of the battle for pistol braces is encouraging for gun owners and the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment serves as a cornerstone of American freedom, ensuring that the right of gun ownership remains protected. Pistol braces are just one example of how advancements in firearms technology can aid individuals in exercising their rights. By advocating for the Pistol Brace, we uphold the principles set forth by our Founding Fathers and preserve the essential liberties that define our nation.