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New gun regulations for stabilizing brace users

Almost all gun owners that use a stabilizing brace will have to register their weapons with the government or risk a felony.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Nearly all gun owners that use a stabilizing brace will have to register their weapons with the government or risk a felony.

This comes after a new rule Friday from The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the national office that sets regulations for firearms. 

According to the ATF's website, this new rule classifies a rifle with the added stabilizing brace as a short-barreled rifle and is now able to have those same restrictions.

The rule comes after concern that people use the brace incorrectly to shoot from their shoulder, like a bump stock.

The ATF says this will not impact braces that are designed for people with disabilities and cannot be shouldered.

This new guidance for short-barreled rifles comes among other regulations on the weapon seen over the last few decades, including the National Firearms Act.

Many Democrats and gun control activists have pushed for these restrictions-- hoping for safer gun laws, while many Republicans are against them— claiming it infringes on constitutional gun rights.

The ATF estimates that about three million stabilizing braces have been sold in the United States since 2013. However, the federal Congressional Research Service reported in 2021, "unofficial estimates suggest that there are between 10 and 40 million stabilizing braces and similar components already in civilian hands, either purchased as accessories or already attached to firearms made at home or at the factory." 

Some gun rights advocates are frustrated with the rule and the paperwork backup it could cause at the ATF. 

"If you've got 40 million more applicants just trying to register a pistol brace, if they even chose to do that, then it's going to totally back the system up," Nathan House from the Arkansas Armory said.

The Armory stopped selling the braces last year— expecting the rule to finalize soon after.

As we first reported last month, gun control activists, including Lindsay Nichols with Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said that these braces need to be restricted for public safety.

"[Braces] make these [guns] easy to manage, essentially, so that they function like an AR-15 rifle... mass shooters are choosing these because they are extremely dangerous," Nichols said.

Nichols also explained one of the concerns of short-barreled rifles is that they have the power of a traditional rifle, but are easier to conceal. The braced weapons now require federal registration or are considered a felony.

"Registration means that the people who own these guns go through a very thorough background check, and they know they will be held accountable if these guns are used in a crime," Nichols said.

This decision comes after a year of record mass shootings across the country.

The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Registry next week, and once that happens owners will have 120 days to register, destroy, or turn in the stabilizing brace.


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