Montana gun owners can breathe more easily after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives withdrew their recent guidance revisions for stabilizing braces.
They dropped the measures after a letter from 90 congressional representatives expressed concerns that the new guidance could cause confusion about federal gun laws and unreasonably criminalize lawful gun owners in the US.
Proposed guidance measures
The ATF periodically revises the standard guidelines for lawful gun ownership in the US — specifically when it comes to legal and illegal types of firearm. Under current laws, the ATF has condemned the ownership of guns it classifies as short-barreled rifles unless the owner submits to registration and taxation from the federal government.
However, the ATF has allowed gun owners to acquire and attach braces to pistols that essentially convert them into a version of a short-barreled rifle. When the ATF created this rule, they issued a statement saying that these braces were appropriate as many disabled combat veterans needed assistance stabilizing their weapons for accuracy. Therefore the ATF classified them as pistols despite the similarity to short-barreled rifles.
New guidance measures
In December of 2020, ATF officials issued a statement saying that they were now placing this exception under review and that they would examine inquiries on a case-by-case basis, but that current users would need to register and pay taxes on these braces as though they were short-barreled rifles.
After widespread objection from the community and a letter from 90 congressional representatives in opposition to the new measures, the ATF issued a statement on December 18 notifying the public that they would be withdrawing the new guidance measures after engaging in further review. While they reserve the right to examine this issue again in the future, gun owners across the nation have welcomed the reprieve.