Pistol Braces are Now Banned!— A Thought Exercise
An exploration of practical implications if all pistol braces are reclassified as stocks a la the Honey Badger by Q.
With the stroke of a pen millions of law abiding citizens that bought or built a “pistol” would now be in possession of a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR).
First — What Is a Brace?
Pistol Stabilizing Braces are firearm accessories designed to allow easier manipulation of pistols.
These are useful on pistols because any firearm with a stock and a barrel length of less than 16" is an SBR which requires a $200 Tax Stamp and registration under the National Firearms Act.
The Poor Tax
People with sufficient means will be able to legally keep their pistols in the exact configuration as they are. But first they must pay the government a $200 tax per firearm and wait several months. This will be the only way to legally keep one’s own property in the same configuration as it was originally purchased or built.
This option will not be feasible to many people who bought a single, handy pistol with a brace for self-defense that now find themselves outside of the law.
Even without the poors adding to the traffic there will still be a surge of folks applying for SBR tax stamps which will cause even more delay than the months long wait that exists today.
The New Felons
Some people will blissfully remain in felony violation of the new version of firearms regulations. These people bought a perfectly legal gun and have no way to be informed of the new classification of their property.
Others will knowingly refuse to abide by a law they view as unconstitutional and will likely put an actual stock on their new, illegal SBR.
The Begrudgingly Law-Abiding Citizens
Many gun owners will likely prefer to reconfigure their new, illegal SBRs into a legal configuration. This means removing the brace altogether and then either permanently disassembling/ destroying the pistol, leaving the firearm as a brace-less pistol, or permanently extending the barrel to 16" and adding a real stock onto their new, legal rifle.
Few people would choose to destroy their personal property. Everyone else will be left with a less effective and useful pistol or be forced to join in the surging demand for the 16" barrels and threaded barrel extensions.
Crushed American Companies
Braces are all the new hotness in the firearms industry; multiple millions of these accessories have been sold. There are multiple companies employing thousands of Americans that will be totally screwed because the demand for their product will drop to precisely 0% overnight.
While braces are similar to stocks cosmetically there is not a single brace I would put on a rifle instead of real stock if given the choice.
“Title 1 / Other” firearms are definitely a loop hole in the California “Assault Weapon” laws, but it was the closest thing to a normal AR-15 they could get. The reclassification of Braces into stocks will require all “Others” to use just a buffer tube.
International Arms Manufacturers
Due to restrictions on importing firearms that do not have a “sporting purpose” many foreign made rifles cannot be imported into the country. To get something on the market before committing to opening arms plants in the US many companies import pistol versions of their rifles with the stock removed. The current US market buys them almost exclusively with the intent to install a brace to make the large frame pistols manageable.
This supply of pistols will be quite thoroughly strangled by the reclassification of braces as stocks, and, while that may be a unexpected bonus to some politicians, it will remove competition in the marketplace which has been warmly welcomed by the firearms enthusiast community.
To Be Fair
Pistol braces were originally inspired by a desire to help disabled veterans, but the industry has pushed and pushed the boundary of legality ever since.
It comes down to an ideological question of whether SBRs are inherently more dangerous than firearms with a barrel length of 16" or more.
Obviously many firearms enthusiasts and industry members (and I) believe that pistol braces show that SBRs are not more dangerous. However, if the ATF decides to create law out of thin air and ban braces then at least you know what is likely to happen.