The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “ATF” final rule 2021R-08F, titled “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces’” was signed by the Attorney General on January 12, 2023. This new rule amends ATF’s regulations to clarify the criteria for when a rifle is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.
This new rule determines the criteria for which firearms now fall under the Gun Control Act of 1968 and National Firearms Act as some weapons will now be classified as a “rifle” or “short-barreled rifle” when the weapon has a stabilizing brace or rearward attachment. The rule amends the definition of “rifle” and clarifies that the terms “designed, redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder” include a weapon that is equipped with an accessory, component, or other rearward attachment, such as a stabilizing brace.
Who is affected?
- Unlicensed Possessors
- Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) not under the NFA as a Class One Importer or Class Two Manufacturer SOT
- FFL Importer or Manufacturer under the GCA that are qualified under the NFA Class One Importer or Class Two Manufacturer SOT
- Certain Government Entities
Unlicensed possessors have several options if they own a firearm that is now classified as a short-barreled rifle due to the new ATF rule. They may register the firearm as-is, as an SBR with the NFA for free by May 31, 2023, at atf.gov. They may remove the brace from the firearm by undoing any mounting hardware, sliding the brace off, and removing the buffer tube so that a brace can no longer be attached. ATF language in the new rule, makes clear that permanent removal and disposal is required or altering the brace such that it can no longer be attached, which may vary depending on the firearm platform. They may also install a sixteen inch or longer barrel so that the firearm is no longer considered an SBR. They may also destroy or surrender the firearm. Destruction would entail melting, shredding, or crushing the firearm. For more information on proper destruction of a firearm go to atf.gov. Surrendering the firearm can be met by turning the firearm in to a law enforcement agency, certified gun dealer, or your local ATF office.
The National Firearms Act requires the registration of all SBRs by May 31, 2023. A person may not lawfully possess an unregistered SBR, nor need it to be assembled to be regulated as an SBR. Constructive possession can change on a case-by-case basis. Unlawful possession of an unregistered SBR is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment or a maximum fine of $10,000 dollars, or both. (26U.S.C. 5861(d), 5871).
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