The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the BATFE or ATF, recently reclassified the Honey Badger Pistol as a short-barreled rifle, or SBR, and issued a cease and desist to Q, the company that makes it.
No formal reason was included with the initial letter sent on August 3, leaving gun owners and gun manufacturers alike confused and understandably angry. And now the gun industry is pushing back.
“The Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division examined the Honey Badger Pistol manufactured and marketed by Q, LLC and determined the firearm is a short-barreled rifle as defined under the NFA,” wrote the ATF.
“A short-barreled rifle is subject to the registration, transfer, taxation and possession restrictions regarding these regulated firearms, which include criminal penalties,” the ATF continued.
Responses from the industry:
“Q is seeking solutions that best protect you, the individual, and Q’s distribution network from falling out of compliance with ATF regulations, and federal law,” said Q in a statement. “At this time, Q has not received any definitive guidance from the ATF.”
“This arbitrary approach is creating confusion and uncertainty for millions of law-abiding citizens, manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers,” said SB Tactical. “SB Tactical is the inventor of the Pistol Stabilizing Brace and is deeply committed to our customers, the Second Amendment, and the rule of law. The ATF’s approach is unfair and unlawful.”
“SB Tactical will, undoubtedly and unwaveringly, continue to support Q, LLC. We are tirelessly working with congressional leadership, the White House, and the Department of Justice to ensure that legal gun owners’ rights and the rights of manufacturers are not in jeopardy. It is our hope that the ATF’s latest policy interpretations, politically motivated or not, are corrected and that the confusion created can be reversed.”
“We are disappointed to learn the ATF has been allowed to continue to target small businesses and put millions of firearms owners in danger of federal prosecution,” said the Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition, or FRAC.
“We strongly disagree with this arbitrary, inequitable, and poorly advised determination which was carried out in a completely non-transparent and hostile manner,” they added.
“[The] ATF has once again unlawfully and unconstitutionally exceeded its authority and changed the law by issuing a new determination that is devoid of logic and reason, contains no explanation as to the manner in which it arrived at its conclusion, conflicts with its prior determinations, and embodies the very essence of ‘arbitrary and capricious’,” said the Firearms Policy Coalition, or FPC.
“There can be no question that our Constitution requires accountability to coincide with the enactment of laws, and that those laws must be within specific, limited, and enumerated powers, not left to bureaucrats who escape all aspects of responsibility,” the FPC continued. “Once more, we remind ATF and the executive branch that their authority has limits and that, if need be, they will once again be reminded of those limits through legal action.”
“Once again, gun owners, manufacturers, and dealers are subject to the whims of the anti-gun bureaucrats who run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives,” said the Gun Owners of America, or GOA.
“The latest outrage is that they have reclassified Q, LLC’s Honey Badger Pistol as a short barrel rifle subject to regulation under the provisions of the National Firearms Act including a $200 transfer tax.”
“Pistol braces have been a source of confusion for ATF for several years,” continues the GOA. “[The] ATF said that if a shooter used a brace as a stock, then the firearm would become an SBR. They later retreated from that position. This is but one of the many reasons why GOA is pushing to repeal not just part of but all of the NFA.”
The Honey Badger Pistol, like many other AR, AK and other “large-format” pistols, comes standard with a pistol brace, not a rifle stock. This, in conjunction with other features, can prevent the ATF from classifying the gun as an SBR, meaning it is not regulated under the National Firearms Act, or NFA.
In addition to local, state and federal restrictions, NFA firearms are tightly regulated and require an additional tax stamp to make or transfer. The costs and restrictions associated with SBRs are often frustrating and for some, outright prohibit the possibility of owning these rifles.
Pistol versions of these guns — like the Honey Badger Pistol, at least, formerly — don’t have these restrictions. While they typically don’t have all of the same features and can’t use stocks, they are extremely popular alternatives, and just about every rifle manufacturer makes pistol versions of their guns for this booming market.
With the ATF’s decision to reclassify the Honey Badger Pistol as an SBR, many gun owners and gun manufacturers will be left to wonder if their pistols will receive the same treatment. If the ATF’s decision remains in place, or if they make other decisions like this one, the future status of large-format pistols might require a day in court.