There’s a serious ball of snakes here, let me see if I can untangle some of it.
The BATFEces have once again decided that something they said was perfectly legal is now, haha, we were only kidding, it’s a felony. First they said the pistol brace was okay, then they said if you shouldered it that constituted a “redesign” as a stock. Then after my attorney and I trolled them mercilessly with a Rule 34 question (Search for “Wrist brace” and “Fleshlight” for that story), they decided a wrist brace was a wrist brace. Now it’s a stock again, well sort of.
For those not familiar, the summary is that a wrist brace lets a weaker or disabled shooter support a heavier handgun. Then a bunch of people started putting braces on things that are pretty close to actual rifles, and possibly violate the spirit of the law, but guess what? Law is about letters, not spirits, so the ATF can suck it.
Ironically, in most of the rest of the world with much stricter gun control, a pistol is a pistol, and slapping a brace, a stock, a bipod, or a pintle mount on it doesn’t change the fact it’s a pistol. The problem here is the National Firearms Act, orchestrated in 1934 by a bunch of ignorant, racist Democrats (but I repeat myself) to stop black people from defending themselves or subsistence hunting (“Poaching”) in the midst of the Great Depression. Pistols were first going to be banned, then not, and rifles weren’t mentioned, then were. There are very convoluted guidelines as to when a pistol stops being a pistol, even though most of the mods will make it less concealable, which for that crowd should be a good thing.
Anyway ATF has reversed its position, now says a brace is a stock unless you can wade through 273 pages of definition on the difference, but they may re-interpret again at any point and declare you a felon, so why don’t you do the patriotic (?!?!?) thing and register it as an SBR—Short Barreled Rifle. Graciously, unlike with the Bumpfire Stock, that didn’t “convert a rifle into a machine gun by harnessing the recoil energy,” no matter what DJ Trump claimed via his proxy gimp Jeff Sessions, the ATF will allow you to register the weapon, for free, under amnesty.
So, your options are:
A: Register it as a Short Barreled Rifle, under amnesty, for free, and get an NFA stamped form. DOWNSIDE: You must file a Form 20 for permission every time you want to take it out of state. NOTE: No, sticking a rifle barrel on doesn’t make it not an NFA weapon. Once it is on the Registry, it remains an SBR, no matter what barrel you put on it, unless you ask them to remove it from the Registry, and either destroy it or make it not an SBR.
2) You can remove the brace. The brace is perfectly legal on any rifle it fits. If you own such a rifle, you now have a rifle accessory, and a pistol with no brace. You may eventually be able to put it back on, if the courts do their job and tell ATF to cut the crap. Or, you can apply for a stamp later if you wish. It will cost $200. It might be worth the wait.
c] You can leave it in illegal format. I recommend against this. I especially recommend against beating your, um, chest on social media that “I WILL NOT COMPLY!” Unless you really hate your dog and want ATF to shoot him when they come to arrest you.
IV} You can destroy the brace (if you’re an idiot) or surrender it to ATF (if you’re a bigger idiot).
E. You can destroy the weapon (if you’re a moron) or surrender it to ATF (if you’re a complete retard).
There was a claim they’ve decided any imported braced pistol was retroactively illegally imported (because rifles, have to meet “sporting purposes”). 922R only applies to manufacture, not possession, and an imported pistol remains a pistol. Once stamped as an SBR, 922R doesn’t matter. This appears to be another possibly deliberate obfuscation for clickbait. An attorney dismantles both that claim and the below “88 day” claim here: https://www.youtube.com/
There is some weird talk of an “88 day rule” that if the ATF hasn’t processed your form in 88 days it’s an automatic denial, you now own an illegal weapon, and they will arrest you. I’ve even heard lawyers claiming this (EDIT: The lawyer was misquoted).
Now, here’s my background:
The trusts I belong to own about 20 NFA weapons in every category (Machine gun, destructive device, silencer, short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun…I guess we don’t own an Any Other Weapon. I’ll have to fix that). I and my firearm specialist attorney assisted a friend’s estate with everything from machine guns to rocket launchers and mortars (seriously. This guy made Burt Gummer look like a wannabe). Form 1 and Form 4 stamps for these have taken up to 19 MONTHS to process. 88 days would be great. Strangely, no automatic denials happened, even on the one that cleared last week.
So I have no idea where this “88 days will automatically deny and make you a felon” comes from. And even if there’s a denial, which can happen due to the complications of the paperwork, I can assure you first hand:
Corrections and resubmissions happen all the time. I’ve seen forms with wrong manufacturer names, wrong countries of origin, wrong item descriptions, wrong calibers, wrong barrel lengths, WRONG SERIAL NUMBERS. AND COMBINATIONS OF
THREE OF THE ABOVE. They all cleared eventually, one taking four resubmissions.
Appeals happen all the time. They deny, you appeal. It sometimes takes a lawyer.
In either case, ATF will send you a letter advising you of your options.
Worst case, you just go with 2), c], IV}, or E. above. Problem solved.
Per my attorney, the 88 day thing turned out to be an auto denial time line for the background check. In other words, if FBI initiates the background check portion of your stamp application and then does nothing for 88 days, it's a denial. Except that part takes about 15 minutes per name, unless your fingerprint cards are a mess, the same as a standard NICS check at an FFL, and FBI processes millions a month. 10 million new checks wouldn't grind that to a halt. And, the process can be re-initiated. They don’t shoot your dog if some magic deadline expires. See above.
Now, is this “reinterpretation” of the wrist brace complete bullshit? Yes.
Do you have to comply in some fashion? The law says yes, and I’m not about to advise you otherwise. I don’t have a dog, but I like my cats and my extensive collection. Every issue above was resolved with sufficient correspondence and/or advice from attorneys, and got everything squared away with no threats, seizures, confiscations, or jail. Get yourself a free SBR stamp and jump hoops, or just take it off, stick it in a closet or on a rifle, and wait to see how the case plays out in court.
NOTE: This assumes you have a rifle that can take said brace. If not, get one, or hand the brace to a friend who does not have a compatible pistol. The brace is not an issue, nor the pistol. It’s the combination.
NOTE 2: ATF says these constitute Short Barreled Rifles, with stocks, even though they have a brace, but until they’re approved, you can’t swap the brace for a stock, because the brace is not a stock, except when it is a stock. Aesop could not be reached for comment. However, that’s a good crack for a legal prybar to break this idiocy.
NOTE 3: It’s okay to hate bureaucrats.