The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) issued a new rule (Rule 2021R-08F) addressing stabilizing braces used to convert pistols into short-barreled rifles, defined as a rifle having a barrel of fewer than 16 inches (“SBR”). The Rule regulates pistols that are made and intended to be fired from your shoulder using an attached stabilizing brace. Such firearms with braces are considered SBRs and now are subject to regulation and registration under the National Firearm Act. Pistols with braces that are determined to be SBRs that are not registered will be subject to felony penalties of up to $250,000, up to 10 years in prison, and forfeiture of gun rights.

The proposed rule does not specify exactly what weapons configured with stabilizing braces are SBRs, although the ATF website provides examples of SBR configurations. People may submit their configuration to the ATF technology division for an official determination.

If your braced weapon equipped with a stabilizing brace meets the definition of an SBR, the weapon will require a tax stamp and registration. Registration may be made by an individual or by the trustee of a gun trust. However, a gun trust may not register a stabilizing braced SBR unless the trust can provide evidence that the trust owned the firearm before the final rule is published in the Federal Register (publication date is January 31, 2023)  Evidence of trust ownership should include a properly executed trust agreement and schedules that list the item as trust property.

There is no “grandfather provision” under the Rule. Stabilizing brace configurations owned prior to this Rule are subject to the Rule and penalty provisions. The only alternative to the registration of currently owned braced pistols is the permanent disassembly of the brace so that the item can no longer be considered an SBR.

The Rule includes a 120 grace period with tax forbearance in order to give people a reasonable time to comply with the Rule without penalty or cost. As the Rule was published on January 31, 2023, an owner has until May 31, 2023, to comply. An owner may submit an ATF Form prior to the May 31, 2023, period without tax. Registration after the grace period is subject to a $200 tax. A subsequent transfer of the firearm would require an ATF Form 4 and tax payment.

Jon Alper

About the Author

I’m a nationally recognized attorney specializing in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from the University of Florida Law School and have practiced law for almost 50 years.

I have been recognized as a legal expert by media outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors.

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