This development is likely to bring further discussion about gun control.
Following the tragic shooting at a Boulder King Sooper's in March, discussions have reignited about gun control legislation ahead of possible action from the Biden administration. A central point in these discussions resolves around subjecting stabilizing braces to regulation under the National Firearms act. The accused is believed to have carried a semi-automatic Ruger AR-556 pistol, which is commonly modified with stabilizing pistol braces. It has not been publicly confirmed if the shooter's weapon was modified in this regard
A stabilizing pistol brace is an accessory designed to replace buttstocks in modern firearms, allowing a user to shoot a weapon more accurately with one hand by securing the forearm with a strap in order to minimize recoil. On June 7th, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) published a notice of proposed rulemaking on its website concerning these changes. This rule has not yet been published on the Federal Register. Once it is, the public will have 90 days to comment.
Regulating stabilizing pistol braces under the National Firearms Act has significant implications for the sale and circulation of these accessories. If stabilizing braces are given this designation, they'll join the ranks of silencers and sawn-off shotguns in being subject to additional regulations. Firearm owners who wish to buy one will be required to pay an additional $200 fee and submit further documentation at the point of sale, which includes an ATF Form 1 Application. It also poses significant considerations on transferring ownership of a weapon with a stabilizing brace, which can make doing so prohibitively difficult.
These changes come in tandem with additional gun control measures from the Biden administration, which also include efforts to regulate ghost guns and widen the rules for states adopting red flag laws. In the former case, the term "ghost gun" refers to firearms that are assembled from base parts and milled with a metal-cutting machine, allowing them to be assembled in a home workshop. These guns are also not subject to federal background check requirements.
It's likely that this policy will be met with pushback once the open comment window the rule change goes into effect. Critics of this policy see it as either ineffective for addressing the underlying causes of public shootings, or an overreach of executive authority.
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