The last few years have seen the rise of the pistol brace for AR-15-pattern handguns in the United States, but they’ve always lingered in a strange gray area of the law. Mind you, not their proper use, but rather when people decide to shoulder them.
First the BATFE said it was legal to do so because the intent of the brace was not to be shouldered, then they reversed this decision saying that shouldering the brace would render the gun a, de-facto, ‘illegal/unregistered SBR’.
Recently a letter from the ATF emerged that further muddied the waters, stating that firing a handgun with the brace installed and used as a shoulder stock is illegal, which by exclusion suggests that shouldering the brace, in and of itself, is not illegal.
Boiled down, it basically amounts to the BATFE stating that using a pistol-stabilize brace to brace the gun is fine, so long as one doesn’t brace that gun on their shoulder and fire it… maybe. That’s one of the most frustrating aspects of firearms legislations in general, the BATFE can set and destroy precedent without concern for violating, ‘ex post facto’.
If you’re not familiar the concept, basically the government cannot pass laws that retroactively make someone a criminal. So, for example, if the government passed a law tomorrow banning 4-cylnder engines, every current Honda owner couldn’t (legally) be thrown in jail over it.
What’s most annoying about dealing with the BATFE, is that whomever is responding to a written inquiry is the current policymaker for the entire BATFE, at least until a more current letter emerges.
This is why many gun guys implore new folks to let sleeping dogs lay when it comes to clarifying certain gun laws. All it takes is some new guy to state something egregiously restrictive for it be considered law. That, and because more often than not the BATFE will adopt a stricter interpretation of whatever law is being written on.
All this conflicting info is confusing as hell, so I decided to call up the inventor of the pistol stabilize brace, Alex Bosco of SB Tactical.
“We’re constantly in contact with the ATF (concerning) any possible changes to the law (in regards to the use of their brace)” He told me over the phone. We spoke at length about him and his company’s experience with the BATFE.
While he and his company’s experience has been nothing but positive with the BATFE, it’s understanding that most Americans and especially gun owners, don’t feel the same way. Especially given the ludicrous nature of the laws pertaining to short-barreled shoulder-fired firearms in the United States.
Presumably, laws are passed to protect citizens from some sort of harm; whether it’s physical mental or monetary. In the case of National Firearms Act or NFA legislation, it’s difficult to argue that point.
For example, rifles with ultra-short barrels are actually much less effective than those with longer ones. The main benefits of short-barreled firearms are lighter weight, better ergonomics and increased portability. Notice I didn’t say increased lethality, because that would be utter bullshit.
Short barrels decreased projectile velocity and reduce sight radius. In layman’s terms, this means the bullets fired do less damage on impact, don’t reach out as far, and are more difficult to precisely place. Not just that, but short-barreled guns suffer from dramatically increased recoil and shot report. – I dare any reader to say standing next to an 8-inch barreled 5.56mm AR-15 at an indoor shooting range is remotely pleasant regardless of how good your hearing protection is.
Which brings me to another hot topic in the world of firearms – sound suppressors.
Suppressors are nothing new, but most Americans have a very inaccurate perspective on how they function, and what they actually do.
You can thank Hollywood and video games for the most common misconception about suppressors – that they’re whisper quiet and thus only used by assassins.
The reality is far different – suppressors only reduce the volume of a gunshot to hearing-safe levels in most cases. While subsonic ammo and an oversized suppressor can produce some pretty quiet results, they’re still easily audible from 25 yards away.
On rifles that fire supersonic rounds, sound suppressors reduce the volume of the gunshot to something close to the sound of a slamming screen door -far from silent.
In Europe, many places require the use of suppressors on firearms and treat them much in the same way Americans treat car mufflers – as the polite thing to do.
Hopefully with a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, the Hearing Protection Act stands a good chance of being passed. This act would deregulate suppressors from NFA items to simple firearms. So, they would still require a 4473 form, but not the 6-10 months of waiting, and $200 tax stamp they currently do.
If this act were to pass, the suppressor market would explode overnight. Shooters would see dozens of companies produces hundreds of different suppressor models and prices on these muzzle devices would plummet from the competition.
Plus, with extra engineers and companies working to devise a better mousetrap, suppressor technology would experience an exponential tech growth.
One thing is for sure, with all the growth in both the personal defense pistol and sound suppressors industries, we’re ripe to see some very interesting products unveil in the next few years.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We at B3E do not want ANYONE to run afoul of a federal NFA charge, so we ARE NOT recommending ANYTHING but using any “pistol brace” exactly as designed especially with the profusion of video cameras that could just capture a shooter in a grey area. Nobody needs to be a BATFE test case so FOLLOW THE LAW and be safe.