For Immediate Release
Contact #: 202-225-3465
Washington, D.C.- Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) announces that he has written Director Steven Dettlebach of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) seeking clarification of Dettelbach's recent House Judiciary Committee testimony concerning the ATF's new pistol brace rule. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is a signatory to the letter.
In his Judiciary Committee testimony, Director Dettelbach said, "…we wrote the rule to make it easy to comply with. If somebody just at their home detaches the weapon from the brace and keeps them apart, they do not have to register anything. They can keep the brace, they can keep the business end of the gun."
But the written ATF rule says to comply in this manner, the owner must: "Permanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the stabilizing brace such that it cannot be reattached, thereby removing the weapon from regulation as a ‘firearm’ under the NFA."
"I’m sending ATF Director Dettelbach a letter asking him to clarify whether the compliance option he suggested for pistol brace owners in his Congressional testimony was accurate and complete. If he was wrong, he may have just put millions of owners in legal jeopardy," said Rep. Massie.
During Director Dettelbach's testimony, he indicated that "detachment" of the pistol brace from the weapon would be sufficient to satisfy the compliance requirements of the ATF's pistol brace rule. Dettelbach's testimony may be viewed at this embedded link.
The Massie-Jordan letter to Director Dettelbach reads as follows:
May 8, 2023
Director Steven Dettelbach
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
U.S. Department of Justice
99 New York Ave, NE
Washington, DC 20226
We are writing to ask you to clarify your recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
We are concerned that your agency’s new Stabilizing Brace Rule and enforcement thereof will result in millions of Americans becoming classified as felons overnight without them having any intent or having taken any action to break the law. The Founders designed our constitutional structure to have three distinct branches. The branch tasked with making laws should not be the same branch tasked with enforcing those laws. Congress must be responsible for making laws, and we do not believe the ATF has the authority to enact the Stabilizing Brace Rule.
Irrespective of the role your agency is undertaking in the creation and enforcement of its own rule, which is without proper Congressional Authority, the Executive Branch has a duty to be transparent with Americans about their classifications of unlawful conduct. There are less than 30 days left until criminal provisions of this rule go into effect. Therefore, it is important for you to provide the public with a clear interpretation of the parameters of the rule. When your agency takes actions that will make millions of Americans felons, you have a responsibility to give a clear, concise, and simple to understand explanation of the rule at hand and how your agency will enforce it.
During testimony, you spoke about “detachment” and how you wrote the rule to be easy to comply with. You explained “detachment . . . that's not for us to regulate. If somebody simply, we wrote the rule to make it easy to comply with. If somebody just at their home detaches the weapon from the brace and keeps them apart, they do not have to register anything. They can keep the brace, they can keep the business end of the gun.”
Your testimony raises concerns as it conflicts with guidelines, slides, and other documents and information distributed by the ATF. For example, ATF.gov Final Rule 2021R- 08F “Factoring the criteria for firearms with attached stabilizing braces” Slide 26 indicates that an option available to all possessors allows them to “[p]ermanently remove and dispose of, or alter, the ‘stabilizing brace’ such that it cannot be reattached.” From that guidance, it does not appear that individuals can “keep” both the brace and the “business end of the gun” as you claimed in your sworn testimony.
We therefore ask for your clarification regarding pistol brace detachment, and would, for the sake of the law-abiding citizens, ask that you publicly correct any statements you made during your congressional testimony which may lead to a misunderstanding or incorrect interpretation of the rule.
Congressman Thomas Massie
Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust
Congressman Jim Jordan
 House Judiciary Committee, Hearing re Oversight of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, April 26, 2023.
 Final Rule 2021R-08F - Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached "Stabilizing Braces" (atf.gov).