The ATF’s Pistol Brace Rule: This is Not the Time for Infighting

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Pistol arm stabilizing brace
(Travis Pike For TTAG)

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People in the firearms community are passionate. Anti-civil rights extremists love to paint the NRA as an all-powerful lobbying boogeyman, but in reality, their donations are chump change compared other interest groups. The power of the NRA has always been in the people…its membership of millions. Gun owners are engaged and often are single-issue voters.

That passion is great, but it can also result in some negative effects on gun culture. Some of these negative effects started to crop up as soon as the unconstitutional, unreasonable, illogical, and downright silly brace rule was announced by the ATF.

That negative effect is infighting. As soon as the ATF announced the possibility of free tax stamps, it became a target. Lines were drawn between those who celebrated the chance to stamp 50 lowers for free and those who hold a hard line against any kind of compliance.

The memes are flying and angry social media posts are being tossed back and forth, and honestly, I can see both sides of the argument. I don’t like compliance either, but I’ve also had a few firearms I’ve wanted to stamp anyway, so should I take advantage of the opportunity to do it for free?

The Brace Rule – How To Lose the Fight

The problem with the infighting is we expend so much energy going at each other that we ignore the actual gun-grabbers and ATF doing their work. For every 50-comment back and forth argument on Instagram or Twitter, you could have sent…how many letters to your state and federal representatives?

Gun owners putting in a ton of effort fighting with each other does nothing to advance our main goal of defeating ATF’s overreach.

I’ts just an educated guess, but the folks who are taking advantage of the free stamp offer likely aren’t supporting the ATF’s rule. They’re just making the best of a bad situation. There is also the argument that if we actually register anywhere from three to 40 million braced pistols, they could then be considered in common use…but I’m no legal scholar.

Pistol arm stabilizing brace

On the flip side, the hard-line no compliance side has a great point. Mass non-compliance by somewhere between three and 40 million people would create a massive issue for the ATF and future rulemaking. At the same time, there are  folks who live in states that prohibit short-barreled rifles outright. They have no option but to resist or destroy, turn in, or de-brace their firearms.

While both sides have valid points, any time we waste fighting each other is still time wasted. I’m betting the gun community’s descent into infighting over the brace rule has taken some of the steam out of the fight against the ATF and the Biden administration.

How To Win

What I propose is simple. Stop. Let people make their own decisions. Instead of banging out a hundred different comments in a social media argument, write a letter to your Congresscritter, to your governor, to every elected official you can think of. There are plenty of people who own braced pistols that aren’t part of the larger “gun community” who likely have no idea what’s happening. Spend your time and energy informing them instead of screeching at one another.

Encourage friends and family to write their representatives, too. Educate, advocate, and inform instead of fighting. Remember…emails are great, but so are snail mail paper letters, phone calls, and constant activism. Be the squeaky wheel in your rep’s ear opposing the ATF’s draconian, unconstitutional brace rule.

Pistol arm stabilizing brace
This brace isn’t the most supportive and might slip and be misused. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

You might be part of the group that thinks braced pistols are stupid all the way around. You’re entitled to that opinion, and I respect it. However, don’t see this as a fight to preserve braces. See it as a fight against the ATF’s overreach and the Biden administration’s attempt to strangle your Second Amendment rights. I don’t ever plan to own a .50 BMG rifle, but I’ll fight tooth and nail to preserve my right to do so.

The brace rule is well worth fighting against. It’s worth organizing and it’s worth resisting. (It’s also worth contributing to the gun rights orgs that are fighting this out in the courts.)  Let’s not fall apart due to infighting. Let’s not lose this fight to ourselves. We have an opportunity to turn the tide here, to say no, and to stop this example of overreach by the federal government. Take it and run with it.

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