The National Fireams Act is a dreadful piece of legislation that was enacted on June 26th 1934 and it is the sole reason it’s a giant hassle to get fun toys like silencers, short barrel rifles and select fire weaponry. The landscape of the NFA world has eased a bit in recent years, especially with the recent ruling by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The ruling I am referencing is March 2017 letter from Marvin G. Richardson, Assistant Director of Enforcement Programs and Services to the legal representatives of SB Tactical essentially telling them that the SB Tactical arm brace can be shouldered.
Now all that sounds amazing and 100% legal, now we get into the area were people seem to get confused by the NFA regulations. People are now allowed to use their AR-15 pistols just like they would as a rifle, but often times people just switch gears mentally and forget that their pistol is still a pistol. Which means that under NFA rules installing a vertical fore grip on your pistol can result in a felony charge from the BATFE which carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in a “Pound You in the Ass” Federal Prison. Not exactly a place that most people gun owners I know would want to end up for up to a decade.
I had a lawyer that specialized in NFA Trusts once described things like a simple NFA violation which involve the installation of a vertical pistol grip as an “Unintentional Felony”. The problem is that intentional or not, a felony charge caries with it severe repercussions that even if you beat the case will make you life as a gun owner or a private citizen complicated and not a lot of fun. When authorities investigate you for gun crimes, make no doubt about it, they know the laws better than you and they have overzealous lawyers who don’t really want to give you a “fix it ticket” and let you correct your seemingly honest mistake.
Questions and Tips to NFA Safety
I’m not trying to paint a picture of doom and gloom about AR-15 pistols or the National Firearms Act as a whole or that Mr ATF Agent has a SWAT Team and a MRAP ready to roll over your dog and raid your house. The point of all that there are simple ways to avoid any issues with the BATFE or with any law enforcement agency when it comes to firearms as a whole or National Firearms Act issues in particular. I made up the following list while thinking about this issue, which strangely enough was after I saw an advertisement from a manufacturer that might just wander in the gray area of regulation and legality.
#1 If in Doubt….Leave it Out
A simple easy motto I often follow. If I had a question about whether or not something was legal on my firearm I would choose to leave that accessory off the firearm. It’s a simple step that keeps you out of trouble and out of the newspapers.
#2. Research for Yourself
Maybe I’m naturally skeptical but I’m sure we have all grown more than a little suspect of free advice in gun shops. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard clerks give patrons wrong or illegal advice about firearms laws or gear. Unfortunately I don’t have the answer on how we as an industry can control our peers or bad clerks in gun shops. My advice ALWAYS research legal advice about firearms. Search the BATFE database for rulings on firearms, or actually call and ask where you can get copies of the information you need. Every time I have called the BATFE with a question I have been given the spot where I can find the response I’m looking for.
#3 Slow Down
There are great deals of half-truths and misinformation out there about the NFA and firearms in general. If you find yourself being questioned about something you own, just remember that the person you are talking to may not have the same level of firearms knowledge that you have. Calling them names or wading into a debate on the 2nd Amendment might not be the best course of action, slow down, take a breath and assess the situation. Sometimes debate and grandstanding first shows up as a friendly dialogue. Know when to just shut up and walk away and let the ignorant remain ignorant.
Embracing the Brace
Pistol braces are 100% legal and have opened up a wide world of great guns that maybe didn’t function as well as expected as pistols. In this day of gun owner friendly rulings by the BATFE we can all now legally enjoy guns like the Heckler 7 Koch MP5, the AK-74U and many other short barrel wonders. Since they are all pistols by legal ruling we can also enjoy them while we save ourselves the $200 tax stamp fee per gun. The other nice part about the pistol brace ruling is that we get to enjoy firing our guns from our shoulders much sooner than the Short Barrel Rifle route. The average wait time on a ATF Form 1 is nearly 365 days.
We want to hear about how many of you are running pistol braces and what types of firearms you are putting them on. I have yet to get a pistol brace because I’m trying to decide what gun I want to get one for. We here at the site are on the hunt for a new project, and could use a little inspiration on the topic, so lets see your pics.