January 31, 2023 – ATF published the final stabilizing brace rule in the federal register. As we reported earlier this month, under this rule, any pistol with a barrel length of less than sixteen inches that is equipped with a stabilizing brace is considered a short-barreled rifle (SBR) and subject to the heightened ownership and transfer restrictions in the National Firearms Act, including registration and taxation.

Non-licensee persons in possession of qualifying firearms equipped with a “stabilizing brace” device have until May 31, 2023 to come into compliance with the NFA’s requirements, but FFLs must comply immediately.

The procedure to register these newly classified SBRs is through an ATF Form 1, Application to Make and Register a Firearm (“Form 1”). Usually, an individual submitting a Form 1 must pay a $200 tax on each NFA firearm. However, ATF has agreed to waive this tax on any individual or entity for firearms affected by this rule that are currently in the possession of the individual or entity, provided they submit the Form 1 by May 31, 2023.

FFLs, however, must comply with the rule immediately and cease selling these firearms as non-NFA items, as there is no similar compliance grace period. If an FFL possesses a newly classified SBR on the licensed premises, steps must be taken to complete a Form 1 to register the firearm with the ATF’s NFA branch and proof of registration submittal must be available for inspection. FFLs without an SOT would submit an electronic version of Form 1 (“E-Form 1”) for the affected SBRs with an attached “stabilizing brace” in their possession. Type 07 FFLs with an SOT should submit an electronic version of Form 2 (“E-Form 2”). To transfer one of these newly classified SBRs, it must be registered in the NFRTR, and the FFL SOT manufacturer or importer must submit and receive approval on an ATF Form 4, Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearms.

In response to comments that the general impact of the rule punishes law-abiding citizens, the DOJ disagreed, stating the “rule does not itself impose any new restrictions; instead, this rule articulates the best interpretation of the relevant statutory terms.” The DOJ asserts that individuals are still free to possess or use stabilizing braces on heavy pistols and rifles, and that “[t]his rule only serves to clarify that certain weapons equipped with ‘stabilizing braces’ are short-barreled rifles regulated under the NFA, thus requiring registration, transfer and making approval, and the payment of a making or transfer tax.” In response to comments that some state law laws prohibit the possession of SBRs, and thus, will result in forfeiture of existing property, the U.S. Department of Justice asserts that such state level issues are not its concern.

Renzulli Law Firm is closely monitoring 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. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.