January 13, 2023 – Just in time for SHOT Show, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland signed Final Rule 2021R-08F to reclassify pistols with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles.
Under this rule, any pistol with a barrel length of less than sixteen inches that is equipped with a stabilizing brace that allows it to be fired from the shoulder is now considered to be a short-barreled rifle and subject to the heightened restrictions in the National Firearms Act. Any firearms that are reclassified as short-barreled rifles pursuant to Final Rule 2021R-08F must either be:
- Registered pursuant to the NFA;
- Modified by replacing the barrel with a barrel at least sixteen inches long;
- Permanently modified by removing the stabilizing brace and altering the stabilizing brace so it cannot be reattached;
- Surrendered to the ATF; or
The ATF has provided a 120-day grace period to comply with the above requirements. Significantly, the ATF is waiving the $200 registration fee for firearms that the Final Rule reclassifies as short barreled rifles. Possessing an unregistered short-barreled rifle is a federal felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or ten years in prison. It is important to note that simply removing the stabilizing brace from the firearm is not sufficient. It must either be disposed or, or altered so that it cannot be reinstalled.
Significantly, the Final Rule states that “ATF may enforce the NFA against any person or entity that—any time after the publication date of this rule—newly makes or transfers a weapon with an attached “stabilizing brace” that constitutes a short-barreled rifle under the NFA.”
The Final Rule has significant implications for residents of states with so-called “assault weapon” bans. In the Final Rule, the Department of Justice states that “in circumstances in which [an] individual cannot remove the ‘brace’ device and maintain the pistol, or make other modifications to the firearm, then the firearm may be prohibited under State law and must be either destroyed or disposed of in compliance with State law.” The Final Rule explains that “[t]he Department thus believes that the important public safety benefits of this rule … outweigh any interest in retaining the firearm for the few individuals who might find themselves in such circumstances.”
Renzulli Law Firm is closely monitoring Final Rule 2021R-08F, along with other legislative developments and litigation that affect the firearms industry. If you have any questions about complying with the Final Rule and its applicability to specific firearms, please contact John F. Renzullior Christopher Renzulli.