Ohioans who own guns equipped with pistol braces are now at a crossroad: register their guns with the federal government, detach and destroy the pistol braces, surrender them to authorities or risk federal firearms charges.

On June 1, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) introduced new rules that redefine short-barreled rifles to include guns with pistol braces, according to an article from The Columbus Dispatch. 

As a result, gun owners with these accessories will face increased ownership requirements.

The ATF says these regulatory changes were implemented in response to the growing popularity of pistol braces among mass shooters, including the gunman who killed nine people in Dayton. According to the article, Attorney General Merrick Garland called the changes a common-sense response to prevent the use of these accessories for illegal purposes.

However, gun rights groups argue that requiring gun owners to modify or register legally purchased weapons is unconstitutional, an overstep of ATF authority, and violates the Second Amendment. In fact, there are currently a number of legal challenges in federal court, with some injunctions in place barring the ATF from enforcing the rule pending the outcome of the litigation.

In Ohio, House Bill 51, introduced by Reps. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, and Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, would add further protections to the right to bear arms, remove federal firearms law references from the state firearms control law, and declare an emergency “for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety,” allowing the act to go into immediate effect upon enactment (typically a signed act becomes law after 90 days). The bill is currently held up in House committee.

The regulatory changes will affect millions of people nationwide, but many pistol brace owners may not be aware of the new regulations that have now gone into affect. Read on to learn more about the recent changes to the federal law.

What is a Pistol Brace?

So, what exactly is a pistol brace? A pistol brace is an attachment added to the end of a firearm to increase its stability, allowing it to be accurately held with one hand. They  were initially created for disabled veterans, which later caught the attention of the general public. 

But, what’s the news? 

With increasing use of pistol braces in mass shootings, there have been growing concerns about their potential for misuse. The Biden administration is now implementing regulations that would redefine a firearm fitted with a pistol brace as a short-barreled rifle, with owners required “to pay a $200 stamp tax, submit fingerprints and a photo to the ATF and notify the authorities whenever they want to take the firearm across state lines,” according to the article.

Why the Change in Regulation?

The debate over gun control just got a little louder with recent changes to pistol brace regulations. Originally allowed by the ATF for more than a decade, these accessories are now suddenly classified as dangerous, with President Biden calling  them “especially dangerous,” because a handful of mass shooters have used them. The ATF believes there may be 10- 40-million pistol braces owned by Americans.

Supporters of the braces argue they don’t actually change the firearm’s rate of fire, rather, they stabilize the firearm on the shooter’s arm. However, Ohio state Rep. Dani Isaacsohn disagrees, pointing to the 2019 shooting in Dayton’s entertainment district in which the shooter fired 41 rounds in 30 seconds, the Columbus Dispatch article stated.

What to Do If You Own a Pistol Brace

With the new ATF rule regarding pistol braces in effect, many gun owners are left wondering what options they have to comply with the law. If you are a pistol brace owner, don’t panic. There are several things you can do to ensure you are following the new regulations without losing the functionality of your firearm.

First, you can choose to register your brace with the ATF. This will make it legal for you to keep and use your pistol brace without fear of fines or imprisonment. However, it’s important to note that the registration process is not a walk in the park. It can take up to several months, and you’ll need to provide fingerprints, a photo, and pay a hefty tax. 

Alternatively, you can replace the barrel with one that is at least 16 inches long. This will not work for every firearm covered under the rule, but for those that can be reconfigured, this makes the gun fall under the definition of a regular rifle. 

Otherwise, you can remove your brace altogether. If you opt for this route, you have to remove the brace “permanently” such that it cannot be reattached, as according to the ATF in their final rule. 

Lastly, if you’re not willing to jump through those hoops, there is an exception. Arm braces which cannot be shouldered like a rifle are still legal to use. However, it’s crucial to note that the line between a brace and a stock is a thin one. If you choose this route, you must make sure that your arm brace falls within the exemption category, or you could face severe legal repercussions.

Approximately 250,000 people registered their braced pistols under this rule during the initial 120-day timeframe, when the $200 tax stamp was waived. Apparently, the vast majority of pistol brace owners have chosen one of the other alternatives.

How AimHi Family Firearms Center Can Help

It’s is imperative that gun owners who have pistols equipped with braces understand these new federal regulations. At AimHi Family Firearms Center, we believe it’s our responsibility to keep our customers informed of all relevant changes that may affect them. 

Our experienced and knowledgeable staff can answer any questions you may have regarding these new regulations and help you ensure compliance with them. Contact us today to learn more about these changes and how we can help you stay safe and lawful!