The Biden administration has finalized a new rule to tighten restrictions on stabilizing braces for firearms that can convert pistols into rifles.
The Justice Department (DOJ) said in a release on Friday that it submitted its rule to the Federal Register, clarifying that manufacturers, dealers and individuals must comply with laws regulating rifles when they use stabilizing braces to convert pistols to rifles with a barrel of less than 16 inches, which are known as short-barreled rifles.
The release states that Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to address stabilizing braces in April 2021.
“Almost a century ago, Congress determined that short-barreled rifles must be subject to heightened requirements,” Garland said in the release. “Today’s rule makes clear that firearm manufacturers, dealers, and individuals cannot evade these important public safety protections simply by adding accessories to pistols that transform them into short-barreled rifles.”
The release states the National Firearms Act has placed certain restrictions on short-barreled rifles since the 1930s because they are easier to conceal than long-barreled rifles and have more destructive power than traditional handguns.
The increased requirements include background checks for all transfers and additional taxation.
“This rule enhances public safety and prevents people from circumventing the laws Congress passed almost a century ago,” ATF Director Steven Dettelbach said. “In the days of Al Capone, Congress said back then that short-barreled rifles and sawed-off shotguns should be subjected to greater legal requirements than most other guns.”
But Dettelbach said the stabilizing braces are designed to attach to a pistol to convert it to a short-barreled rifle to be fired from the shoulder.
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The release states that the rule allows a 120-day period for manufacturers, dealers and individuals to register any existing short-barreled rifles covered by the rule tax-free. They can also remove the stabilizing brace to restore the firearm to be a pistol or turn over the converted short-barreled rifles to the ATF.
The release notes that stabilizing braces are not banned under the rule, only that certain restrictions must apply when they are used to convert the pistols.
The DOJ initially proposed the rule in June 2021, and the ATF received more than 237,000 comments during the 90-day public comment period.
The rule will go into effect on the date that the Federal Register publishes it, which Reuters reported will likely be next week.