ATF Stabilizer Brace Rule Means the Registration of Millions of Guns

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF’s) stabilizer brace rule was finalized January 13, 2023, and it portends the registration of millions of guns.

Breitbart News reported the announcement of the finalized rule, noting that owners of said braces will have 120 days to register them once the rule is published in the federal register.

This means millions of guns must be registered within 120 days.

At the low end of the spectrum, NPR notes, “Officials estimated about 3 million stabilizing braces are currently in circulation in the U.S.”

At the higher end of the spectrum, the Congressional Research Service suggested there were already “between 10 and 40 million” stabilizer braces by April 19, 2021.

For stabilizer brace owners who do not wish to register their guns, the ATF provides four alternatives:

Turn in the entire firearm with the attached “stabilizing brace” to ATF;
Destroy the whole firearm;
Convert the short-barreled rifle into a long-barreled rifle;
Permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the “stabilizing brace” from the firearm so that it cannot be reattached.

Breitbart News noted that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck down the ATF’s bump stock ban on January 6, 2023.

Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote the Fifth Circuit’s majority opinion, noting the ban came as myriad demands for a ban were made following the October 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting:

Public pressure to ban bump stocks was tremendous. Multiple bills to that effect were introduced in both houses of Congress. But before they could be considered in earnest, ATF published the regulation at issue here, short circuiting the legislative process. Appellant Michael Cargill surrendered several bump stocks to the Government following publication of the regulation at issue. He now challenges the legality of that regulation, arguing that a bump stock does not fall within the definition of “machinegun” as set forth in federal law, and thus that ATF lacked the authority to issue a regulation purporting to define the term as such.

Elrod explained that the court’s majority also found the ATF’s bump stock ban violated the “rule of lenity” by imposing criminal liability on people who had legally purchased a product against which there was no law.

Congress has not acted to outlaw stabilizer braces for AR pistols.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. AWR Hawkins holds a PhD in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at Reach him directly at

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