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ATF’s gun measurement change now forcing federal registration of popular guns

IWI UZI with folding stabilizing brace (gar2chan/Flickr)
July 17, 2019

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has reportedly changed a key gun measuring standard that is indirectly reclassifying popular pistols if they have a stabilizing brace and vertical foregrip.

In an ATF letter obtained by firearms legal expert, attorney Adam Kraut, the ATF is no longer allowing overall gun measurements to include “stabilizing braces” used to brace the gun against the user’s forearm, meaning that many popular guns like the AR pistol could be under their standard length and subject to the National Firearms Act (NFA) regulations if they have a vertical foregrip attached and fall below 26 inches.

Pistols fitted with a stabilizing brace that once measured more than 26″ overall length (exempting it from NFA regulations) are now not allowed to include the brace in its overall length measurement with the vertical foregrip, meaning if it now falls under 26″ under the new measurement, they are now subject to NFA regulation unless the foregrip is removed.

“In contrast to stocks on rifles or shotguns…’stabilizing braces’ are merely accessories and not relevant to the classification of a ‘pistol’ under the statutory definition. That is, a folding stock on a rifle or shotgun is included in overall length measurements because the firearm must be ‘designed or redesigned….and intended to be fired from the shoulder‘ to be so classified. The stock is therefore an essential element in the statutory definition,” the ATF said in the letter obtained by Kraut.

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Previous measuring guidelines from the ATF declared guns “not subject to the provisions of the NFA” when they are manufactured with “barrels that are 18 inches in length and the overall length of the firearm, with stock extended, is more than 26 inches.”

However, that standard doesn’t apply to pistols like the AR pistol fitted with stabilizing braces because they are not used primarily to fire from the shoulder.

“Measuring a folding (or telescoping) stabilizing brace would therefore undermine the comprehensive statutory and regulatory design of the GCA and NFA,” the ATF insisted in the letter.

Numerous gun makers manufacture such weapons, commonly referred to as an “AR Pistol” or other names like the Uzi or a CZ Scorpion. The guns are sometimes manufactured with Picatinny attachment rails similar to the AR-15, but in various calibers.

Any pistol equipped with a vertical grip and stabilizing brace is now considered an “any other weapon,” a category of weapon that is supposed to encompass all weapons that can’t be classified as rifles, shotguns, or handguns.

“Any other weapons” (AOWs) are subject to the registration and fee requirements of the NFA. Weapons regulated by the NFA include “a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length,” according to the ATF.

The only way for gun owners to avoid this is by removing the vertical foregrip.

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Gun owners who don’t register their NFA guns are committing a felony, and there are likely millions of gun owners who will be committing a felony if they don’t register their reclassified guns with stabilizing braces.

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This article has been updated to reflect accurate information, including removing the term “rifle” which is unrelated to the new change. American Military News regrets this error.