The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the BATFE or just ATF, turned over documents as part of a request that may have profound implications for gun owners nationwide. According to the letter, a wide range of pistol braces have not been certified by the ATF, meaning they are stocks.
This could mean that a huge number of firearms fit with braces are not actually pistols, but short-barreled rifles or SBRs, subject to taxes, registration and other restrictions. Anyone in possession of an unregistered SBR may face serious charges.
“This letter is to inform SB Tactical that certain products currently marketed and sold by SB Tactical have not been evaluated nor approved by the Bureau,” reads the letter. “It has come to the attention of FTISB,” the Firearms Technology Industry Services Branch, “that all of SB Tactical ‘braces’ are being marketed and evaluated and approved by ATF as ‘pistol stablizing braces,’ although, in most cases no evaluations or classifications have ever occurred.”
The ATF letter points out that the FTISB has only ever approved two SB Tactical braces, the MPX PSB and the original, but discontinued SB15. One curious detail is that the letter is dated July 18, 2018, and is not a recent memo.
This leaves the gun industry in an uncomfortable, uncertain position, along with countless numbers of gun owners and gun manufacturers who made, bought, sold and use stabilizing braces in good faith. SB Tactical responded and included several examples of letters approving various pistol braces.
“SB Tactical is aware that in response to FOIA requests from third parties, ATF has released internal documents that confirm the existence of an effort to malign and reclassify products used by millions of law-abiding Americans,” reads their statement. “Among those documents is an incomplete, redacted criminal evaluation that SB Tactical has never seen before and which contains multiple inaccuracies.”
“Contrary to the letter’s baseless accusation about SB Tactical’s marketing, SB Tactical has never and would never mislead its customers,” they say. “SB Tactical has been working with ATF and DOJ for years and has sought determinations from the agency about the status of its products as applied to particular firearms.
“ATF’s false and irrelevant statements are sadly consistent with an activist and lawless ATF that refuses to engage SB Tactical or manufacturers on the legal status of accessories used by millions of Americans.” SB Tactical urges gun owners to reach out to their representatives and the Department of Justice even in this ongoing election season.
Following the announcement from the ATF that the Honey Badger Pistol was not a pistol, but in fact, an SBR, it seems like the rumors of an ATF going after pistol braces may be true. Still, without any formal guidelines, it is not clear if this is a real attempt to criminalize and regulate pistol braces or if it is just more confusion from a cryptic agency.