ATF Accepting Comments on Which AR Pistols to Regulate, Register

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has posted an announcement to the Federal Register and is taking comments regarding which AR pistols it will regulate and register.

On December 17, 2020, Breitbart News reported that the ATF is considering a reevaluation of numerous AR pistols with stabilizer braces; a move that could result in reclassifying the firearms and bringing them under the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA) and/or Gun Control Act (GCA).

This would mean certain AR pistols with stabilizer braces would need to be registered with the ATF through the same process undertaken when purchasing a suppressor, machine gun, short-barreled rifle, or short-barreled shotgun. The process would include an in-depth background check, as well as being fingerprinted, photographed, and paying a $200 fee for a federal tax stamp.

On December 18, 2020, the ATF posted an announcement on the Federal Register regarding the pending reevaluation.

The announcement sets forth the AFT’s contention is that some stabilizer braces on AR pistols are being used to shoulder the pistol rather than as an aid to help shoot the pistol “with one hand.”

It says:

ATF’s longstanding and publicly known position is that a firearm does not evade classification under the NFA merely because the firearm is configured with a device marketed as a “stabilizing Start Printed Page 82518brace” or “arm brace.” When an accessory and a weapon’s objective design features, taken together, are not consistent with use of the accessory as an arm brace, that is, not to stabilize a handgun when being operated with one hand, such weapon, configured with the accessory may fall within the scope of the NFA, particularly where the accessory functions as a shoulder stock for the weapon.

In light of this, the ATF says it “must evaluate whether a particular firearm configured with a stabilizing brace bears the objective features of a firearm designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder, and thus subject to the NFA, on a case-by-case basis.”

The ATF is taking public comment via the Federal Register through January 4, 2021.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at You can sign up to get Down Range at


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