2020 Isn’t Done With Us Yet

Dec 18, 2020

Given the way the rest of 2020 has played out, I don’t know why I thought I’d only have to worry about putting together a personal message to put some final punctuation at the end of another year. I can describe 2020 in a lot of ways, but “another year” doesn’t do this year credit.

It seems 2020’s not done with us, at least not when it comes to news. And if the news today is any indication of what’s ahead, 2021 won’t be any picnic.

At the Adapative Defensive Shooting Summit a one-armed shooter shoots a pistol-style modern sporting rifle using a brace. OWDN photo.

Today, the ATF is releasing for public comment, a “clarification” document regarding stabilizing braces- those devices that resemble gun stocks, but aren’t. They’re assistive devices that allow a person with physical issues to shoot a pistol style modern sporting rifle using only one hand.

The ATF calls the document “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with Stabilizing Braces”, but after looking it over it might best be described as “A Rubber Ruler That Will Allow Us to Kick Off An Unauthorized Massive Gun Registration and Eventual Confiscation Move.”

You should be able to see the rule- which was unpublished as we began our holiday hiatus- here. As you read it you’ll quickly realize the ATF’s not looking to clarify anything, other than their obvious intent to confuse what constitutes a legal brace to the point shooters will simply decide it’s not worth the risk of a felony charge and simply walk away.

For many of us, this is a new deal. For Alex Bosco, co-founder of SB Tactical, it’s just the latest in his ongoing battle to get clarity from the ATF. Bosco, a former Marine, came up with the idea for a stabilizing brace while at the range with a disabled friend. He came up with the idea for a device that would make it possible to shoot the AR/MSR-style pistol with one hand.

In 2012, Bosco received ATF approval for his brace, with the ATF saying the “submitted brace, when attached to a firearm, does not convert that weapon to be fired from the shoulder and would not alter the classification of a pistol or other firearm..such a firearm would not be subject to NFA controls.”

In 2014, the ATF re-affirmed that classification when it wrote that someone incorrectly using the brace as a stock wouldn’t change the device status, writing they “do not classify weapons based on how an individual uses a weapon.” In other words, incorrect usage wouldn’t make the gun in question an NFA item because it was incorrectly used.

In other words, Bosco’s been around the block - repeatedly -with the ATF on the whole brace thing. But talking with him yesterday, he was quick to classify this latest “clarification” as something much more concerning. To him, this document, the timing of its release, and the very narrow timetable for contents, and its attempt to “bribe” unsuspecting gun owners into accepting it via a potential “retroactive exemption” from NFA taxes, constitute “one of the largest gun registration and eventual confiscation attempts in history.”

“We’re honest folks,” he told me, “if you tell gun owners what’s legal, we’ll comply. But in order to comply we need clearly delineated rules. We’ve proven ourselves as capable of self-regulation.”

“But this,” he says, “is the most underhanded thing I’ve ever seen.”

The “this” he refers to isn’t just the document - it is confusing - but the entire circumstance around the release, from the timing of the document being published (December 18) and its very limited timeframe for public comment (the window for public comment closes on January 1, 2021).

“Any government agency,” Bosco told me, “needs to be clear with their guidelines. Parameters need to be defined, in terms that everyone can understand. What the ATF’s doing here isn’t clear, it’s deliberately causing law-abiding people to risk being charged with a felony.”

“This guidance,” he says, “is worse than meaningless. You’re left guessing on everything.”

He’s right. The document, although carrying no force of law at this point, says items to be used in their classification of a legal, versus NFA-regulated item include: type, caliber, weight, length, how it’s marketed, length of pull, sights and scopes attached to it, peripheral accessories mounted to it, the rear surface area of the brace, and, disturbingly, more.

Even more disturbingly, there are no definitive values for any of the items.

Long story short, this ATF move isn’t one that any gun owner can allow to go unchallenged.

It’s clearly been orchestrated to move into-and out of- the comment period with as little time- and notification- as possible. And dropping a potential bombshell like this during the Christmas/Hanukkah holidays -when companies and their employees are taking much needed breaks - is well-beyond the idea of coincidence.

Without all of us making our opposition known, there are approximately four-million brace owners in the country that could suddenly find themselves looking at felony charges.

In today’s news section you can see SB’s release about the whole deal. It contains information on how you can make your feelings known to everyone from the President and Congress to the ATF.

And with that, we’re closing the news book on 2020.

What I’ve written here doesn’t in the slightest resemble what I’d planned to write. But that seems most appropriate considering the kind of year we’ve come through.

As we begin our much-needed holiday hiatus, I have to thank all the people who help put the wires out every day, our corporate members and advertisers whose support have enabled us to keep our subscription price unchanged for the past 20 years. We all started as strangers and now we’re more like family than friends.

But most of all, I want to wish each of you a Merry Christmas, happy holidays and let you know I’m hoping that 2021 isn’t just a change from the craziness of 2020, I’m praying that it is your best year ever. As always, we’ll keep you posted.

God bless.

— Jim Shepherd