ATF director grilled by Jim Jordan over the possibility that millions of gun owners could soon become felons due to overreaching arm brace rule
05/10/2023 // Cassie B. // Views

Lawmakers have asked the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to clarify a new rule on pistol braces that could make millions of American gun owners felons at the end of the month.

Jim Jordan, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) sent a letter this week to ATF Director Steven Dettelbach following his recent refusal before the House Judiciary Committee to define “assault weapon” and provide clarity on the rule.

The ATF is maintaining that stabilizing braces should be considered short-barreled rifles and therefore be subjected to additional regulations under the National Firearms Act when used to modify pistols so they can be fired from the shoulder. The ATF claims these braces will make it easier for individuals to make pistols more dangerous without undergoing the types of background checks needed for short-barreled rifles. They estimate that around 3 million stabilizing braces were sold in the country since 2013.

Under the new rule, owners of stabilizing braces will be required to either take them off their weapon or register them, and they will be regulated like short-barreled rifles. Those who fail to register them by the end of May could be subject to a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. However, many people may be unaware of the new rule and could unwittingly become felons as a result.

According to Fox News Digital, the letter states: "We are concerned that your agency’s new Stabilizing Brace Rule and enforcement thereof will result in millions of Americans becoming classified as felons overnight without them having any intent or having taken any action to break the law.”


The letter points out that our founding fathers intended for the government to have three branches, and the branch that makes laws should not also be responsible for enforcing them. Therefore, they maintain that the ATF lacks the authority to enact the controversial new rule, known as the Stabilizing Brace Rule.

Moreover, it adds that the country’s executive branch is obligated to be transparent with citizens about what constitutes “unlawful conduct.” With the deadline for the new rule going into effect quickly approaching, the public needs clarity on this measure immediately so they do not unintentionally break the law.

“When your agency takes actions that will make millions of Americans felons, you have a responsibility to give a clear, concise, and simple to understand explanation of the rule at hand and how your agency will enforce it," they added.

Dettelbach's statements about the rule have been vague and inconsistent

At a hearing late last month on the matter, Jordan slammed Dettelbach over the rule, comparing him to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who he said “ran our lives for two years and was wrong about just about everything he said” regarding Covid-19.

Dettelbach said that whether someone who didn’t register their braces would be prosecuted “would depend on the facts and circumstances." He maintains that the ATF will focus on enforcing it among gang members, while those who fail to register braces because they did not know they were required to do so are less likely to be prosecuted.

However, there have been some inconsistencies in statements made by the ATF about the matter, and clarity is urgently needed to help gun owners ensure they stay on the right side of the law. In a hearing last month, when Jordan asked Dettelbach if the ATF would go to gun ranges and carry out spot inspections or ask manufacturers for lists of individuals who purchased braces, he did not provide a direct answer.

Sources for this article include:

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