Wondering if Something is ATF-Legal? Don’t Ask.


Wondering if Something is ATF-Legal? Don’t Ask.

Some things fall in the “duh” category. To me, this is one of them–in a way.

Tommy over at ILMG recently posted about an experience he had with some Feds at a gun show.

He asked an ATF agent a question. Eyebrows were raised, and pretty soon there were three ATF agents eyeballing him pretty hard. Eventually, he apparently convinced them that he’s a writer who’s genuinely curious, so they shared some info with him.

He asked if shouldering a rifle-caliber pistol with a SIG forearm brace was indeed illegal and was told in no uncertain terms that yes, it is. Heck, they even showed him the ruling. Shouldering a pistol with a forearm brace magically classifies it as a short-barreled-rifle (SBR), which is taboo and requires certain tapdance numbers and bribery of the government (a.k.a. “tax stamp”) in order to be legal.

The nameless agents, who spoke with him on the condition of anonymity, added that the reason this ruling was made is that too many of us asked too many questions.

In other words, if everyone had just kept mum, used their forearm braces as designed and maybe touched them to their shoulders “by accident” from time to time, the ATF would not have bothered with any ruling.

Sadly, he didn’t feel great after experiencing six ATF eyeballs glowering at him accusingly. Those are my words, not his. Here’s what he said about it:

The interaction with the agents left a bad taste in my mouth, not only did I dislike them crowding my stand as if I were some sort of criminal for asking these questions, but I didn’t like the fact that I was told ‘If you guys would have just kept your mouths shut no one would have bothered with the SIG Brace ruling.’ To me that’s ridiculous. So a perfectly law abiding citizen can be turned into a felon instantaneously because they shouldered a weapon that fires a rifle cartridge? How is this law in any way going to protect people?

It’s not. But that’s not usually what laws are about.

He also got some skinny on homemade suppressors (yes, you can make your own if you want to, after you beg for government permission of course). Me, I think silencers/suppressors should be perfectly legal, as I’ve said before.

At the beginning, I mentioned the “duh” thing. What I meant was this: It stands to reason that asking government whether something is okay or not is pretty much the same thing as asking for something to be banned. It is the nature of government to ban things.

On the other hand, part of me simply wishes to live in a world in which the government makes sense and doesn’t make up goofy laws willy-nilly–a world in which asking a question doesn’t lead to an outright ban.

Alas, that is not our world.

In conclusion, I’d like to paraphrase something from the ILMG post: To any ATF agents who may read this: No, I don’t have a rifle caliber pistol nor a suppressor and I don’t intend to break this law or any other laws, so please don’t kick in my door.

Do this, but not that.
Do this, but not that.


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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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