House Rep. Gaetz Introduces Bill to Abolish the ATF

(— On Jan. 18, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced the “Abolish the ATF Act” to eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), stating that through its regulations the agency has been “trying to convert otherwise law-abiding people into felons.” Gaetz’s bill comes after the ATF finalized a ruling that makes individuals using stabilizing braces to convert pistols into rifles comply with laws that are exclusive to those rifles.

“The continued existence of the ATF is increasingly unwarranted based on the actions they’re taking to convert otherwise law-abiding people into felons,” Gaetz told Fox News Digital on Jan. 18.  “My bill would abolish the ATF. If that doesn’t work, we’re going to try defunding the ATF.”

“If that doesn’t work, we’re going to target the individual bureaucrats at the top of the ATF who have exceeded their authority in rulemaking,” he added. “And if that doesn’t work, we’re going to take a meat cleaver to the statutes that the ATF believes broadly authorize their actions.”

On Jan. 13, the Attorney General Merrick Garland signed off on an ATF rule, the “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces.’” The ATF’s website says this signing amends the “ATF’s regulations to clarify when a rifle is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.” 

According to the ATF, “The rule outlines the factors ATF would consider when evaluating firearms equipped with a purported ‘stabilizing brace’ (or other rearward attachment) to determine whether these weapons would be considered a ‘rifle’ or ‘short-barreled rifle’ under the Gun Control Act of 1968, or a ‘rifle’ or ‘firearm’ subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act.” 


Firearms with stabilizing braces or similar attachments are subject to the rules and classifications that the National Firearms Act (NFA) has set on rifles. A rifle is “subject to the NFA only if the rifle has a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length,” according to the ATF. “A weapon made from a rifle is also a firearm subject to the NFA if the weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.” 

In reference to the ATF’s action, the National Rifle Association tweeted, “The Biden administration chose to shred the Constitution today. @ATFHQ submitted their pistol brace ‘final rule’ to the Federal Register and demanded Americans either ‘register’ or ‘surrender’ their lawfully owned rifles. Joe Biden is an enemy of our Second Amendment.” 

The braces were designed for people with certain handicaps that allows them to shoot a pistol with one hand while stabilizing their arm. The “stabilizing brace” attaches to the arm and the pistol.

Gaetz said this new rule disrupts recreational firearm use, stating, “I have a lot of disabled veterans in my district who enjoy pistol shooting and rely on stabilizing braces to be able to engage in the activity.”

Additionally, he claimed that the rule is based on open interpretation at the discretion of the ATF. “The recent actions from the ATF essentially allow them to make case-by-case determinations on whether a pistol with a stabilizing brace is legal or an unlawful, sawed-off shotgun,” he added.

The ATF said after the decision was finalized that, “This rule does not affect ‘stabilizing braces’ that are objectively designed and intended as a ‘stabilizing brace’ for use by individuals with disabilities, and not for shouldering the weapon as a rifle. Such stabilizing braces are designed to conform to the arm and not as a buttstock. However, if the firearm with the ‘stabilizing brace’ is a short-barreled rifle, it needs to be registered within 120-days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.”

The rule affects four different types of firearm carriers: “Unlicensed Possessors, Federal Firearm Licensees not under the NFA as a Class One Importer or Class Two Manufacturer SOT, FFL Importers or Manufacturers under the GCA that ARE Qualified under the NFA Class One Importer or Class Two Manufacturer SOT, and Certain Governmental Entities.”


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