New ATF Rule on Stabilizing Braces: Update After the ATF Training Seminar for FFL’s

On January 13, 2023, the Attorney General signed ATF final rule 2021R-08F, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces” amending ATF’s regulations to clarify when a rifle is “designed, redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.” This includes a weapon that is equipped with an accessory, component, or other rearward attachment (e.g., a “stabilizing brace”), that provides surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder, provided other factors (as described in the rule) indicate the weapon is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder. The final rule is effective on the date of publication in the Federal Register.

The new ATF rule was published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2023. Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached “Stabilizing Braces,” 88 Fed. Reg. 6478 (Jan. 31, 2023) (to be codified at 27 CFR pts. 478 & 479).

On the morning of January 31, 2023, the ATF conducted a training seminar for FFL’s on the application of the new Rule. The seminar started with a review of the ATF slide show that was already on the ATF website. But the ATF held a question and answer period. The ATF representatives answered several questions that we have heard from our clients. Here is a summary of some of those questions and answers.

Question: In order to qualify to file the free Form 1 as a Trust, must there be a notarized document showing that the firearm was owned by the trust prior to the publication date? Answer: The documentary evidence does not need to be notarized if the law of that state does not require it to be notarized.

Question: If a firearm is registered as a short-barreled rifle (SBR) using the free (no tax) Form 1, can a stock later be added to the SBR? Answer: After receiving the approval of the Form 1 registering the firearm as an SBR, then you can add a stock to the SBR.

Question: Is an AR-type pistol with a standard 6 to 6-1/2 inch buffer tube now considered to be a short-barreled rifle (SBR)? Answer: It is not an SBR because the buffer tube is required for the cycle of operations of the firearm, even if the buffer tube provides a surface area that allows the firearm to be shoulder fired.

Question: What happens if a free (no tax) Form 1 Application is denied? Answer: If it is denied due to timing out or some other technical issue, the applicant should simply refile the Application. Of course, if it is denied because of an issue in the applicant’s criminal history, then the applicant should not simply refile.

Question: Is the free (no tax) Form 1 available for a shotgun that has an armbrace? Answer: The free (no tax) Form 1 is not available for shotguns.