WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced on Friday a new rule targeting pistol attachments known as “stabilizing braces,” implementing a key move in the Biden administration’s efforts to beef up gun control regulations.
A stabilizing brace is an attachment to a pistol that functionally turns it into a short-barreled rifle, similar to a sawed-off shotgun. Such weapons are considered particularly deadly as they offer the power of a traditional rifle, but are much easier to conceal.
For decades, short-barreled rifles have been subject to strict regulations, including a law known as the National Rifle Act, which requires additional taxation and background checks for private transfers, among other provisions.
The new rule clarifies that pistols modified by a stabilizing brace are subject to those additional requirements, department officials said.
“This rule enhances public safety and prevents people from circumventing the laws Congress passed almost a century ago. 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,” said Steven Dettelbach, the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Last year, President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced they were planning measures to tackle stabilizing braces as well as “ghost guns” — a type of firearm that is assembled by users and practically untraceable.
While Democrats in Congress have pushed aggressively for new regulations of stabilizing braces, most Republicans have opposed such measures, portraying them as an infringement on Americans’ constitutional gun rights.
The new rule gives owners, manufacturers and distributors 120 days to report their stabilizing braces to the ATF tax-free. They may also remove the stabilizing brace or turn in any pistol modified by a stabilizing brace to the ATF.
It goes into effect once it is published in the Federal Register, likely next week, department officials said.