By Luke Brantley
Earlier this year, I wrote a column about how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), changed its mind and effectively banned stabilizing braces after saying they were perfectly legal for over a decade.
As a quick recap, the National Firearms Act (NFA), which was passed by congress and signed into law in 1934, established a few key pieces of (unconstitutional) gun control laws. The NFA set minimum length requirements for rifle and shotgun barrels. These lengths were later adjusted in the 1960s as part of the Gun Control Act (GCA). These laws also heavily restrict ownership of suppressors and automatic weapons.
Under these two pieces of (unconstitutional) legislation, rifles must have a minimum barrel length of 16 inches. Anything shorter than that is considered a Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR). Americans can still own SBRs but must pay a $200 tax stamp and get approval from the ATF before converting a rifle into an SBR, assembling an SBR or purchasing an SBR that has already been assembled.
On top of the required tax stamp, government approval and registration of the firearm, there are also serious limitations imposed on taking NFA-regulated items across state lines, and many states impose additional (unconstitutional) limitations on these items.
Break these laws, and you’re looking at a $250,000 fine and 10 years in jail.
Stabilizing braces were a sort of loophole to the NFA. They didn’t count as stocks, so weapons with barrels under 16 inches could use a brace without being considered an SBR. Instead, they were legally considered pistols.
Braces were intended for physically disabled people to be able to shoot rifles or large-frame pistols with one arm, but many people used them to have shorter barrels while avoiding unconstitutional taxes and registration.
And the ATF was perfectly fine with that for over a decade, until earlier this year when—under pressure from the Biden administration—they changed their mind and decided that braced pistols are now SBRs. The ATF gave Americans with braced weapons four choices: Surrender your weapons to the government, destroy your weapons, reconfigure them to meet NFA requirements or register them with the federal government.
The ATF tried to make their overreach sound more palatable by offering to waive the cost of the tax stamp for those who signed up by June 1, when the new regulation (not a law) went into effect.
I and the millions of other Americans who owned braced firearms were determined to resist this blatant act of tyranny.
So 99 percent of us defied the registration requirement, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Second Amendment publication “The Reload” contacted the ATF on June 1, the day the regulation went into effect, and asked how many people registered their firearms with the ATF during the 120-day period from when the regulation was first announced to when it took effect.
The answer they said they received from the ATF was just over 250,000 people (255,162 to be exact). That seems like a lot but let me put that into perspective.
Before the regulation took effect, the ATF figured there were between 3-7 million braced firearms owned by Americans. However the Congressional Research Service suggested the real number was much higher than that, somewhere closer to 10-40 million.
First, let’s take a moment to appreciate how Biden and the ATF were perfectly willing to turn that many Americans into felons over a small piece of plastic and Velcro and a few inches worth of missing metal.
Second, let’s break down the numbers, starting with the ATF’s figures. The ATF estimated between 3-7 million, so let’s be generous and meet in the middle with 5 million. 250,000 divided by 5,000,000 is 0.05. Multiply that by 100, and you get 5 percent.
That means, from the ATF’s perspective, that only 5 percent of Americans with braced firearms registered them.
When you use the Congressional Research Service’s figures, the results are even more encouraging. They estimated there were between 10-40 million braced firearms, so let’s meet in the middle again at 25 million. Doing the math, (250,000 / 25,000,000) x 100 = 1.
Using the more realistic figure, only 1 percent of people with braced firearms registered their guns with the ATF. If you want to get specific and use the exact count of 255,162, that works out to 1.02 percent.
That’s just based on a generous middle-ground estimate, and the real percentage of gun owners who complied could be even lower (or higher, but I’m choosing to be optimistic).
Either way, millions of Americans just stood up to tell the ATF, Biden and the federal government to sit down, shut up and stop infringing on our rights.
In all fairness, this figure doesn’t represent those who surrendered their weapons, destroyed them, sold them or reconfigured them. Also, some people own multiple braced firearms. But based on what happened with registration, the number of people who complied would still be minuscule compared to the number who didn’t.
This act of mass non-compliance should send a clear message to the ATF and to the Biden administration that we the people will not be tread upon lightly.
Another encouraging development is the multiple preliminary injunctions that have been granted in several different lawsuits brought against this regulation. There’s also a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would strike down the brace regulation.
Even though there’s little hope of it passing through the Senate and no chance of Biden signing it, the bill along with the injunctions and mass non-compliance should go a long way in influencing upcoming court decisions.
My hope is that this fight will continue until not only this brace regulation is overturned, but the NFA and GCA are also overturned, along with all other gun control laws and regulations at local, state and federal levels, which are all inherently unconstitutional.
That’ll be easier said than done, I know, but we’ve shown as a nation that we are willing to defy tyranny. That’s how this country was founded.
The “Shot Heard Around the World” was fired at a tyrannical government coming to confiscate weapons from the American people, and we’ve just shown that we’ve still got plenty more where that came from.
See complete story in the Journal Record.