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Old September 13, 2016, 09:15 PM   #1
Saw-Bones
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Please Help Me Sort This Out

I bought a Sig SB-15 brace shortly after they came out. I recently “heard” that the BATFE upon being informed that the brace was being used as a stock on the AR-15 pistol outlawed that particular use.

My questions are:
1 - Is it still legal to use the SB-15 as an arm brace for an AR-15 pistol?

2 - Is it a Federal offense to use the SB-15 as a stock on an AR-15 pistol?

3 - Is the use of the SB-15 as a stock on an AR-15 pistol a felony or a misdemeanor?

Thanks for any light you can shed on this….. Doc
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Old September 13, 2016, 09:18 PM   #2
Acera
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http://gunssavelives.net/gun-industr...ce-is-illegal/

Lots on the internet about that (those) ruling(s)..............


.
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Old September 14, 2016, 06:59 AM   #3
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@Acera - First, thank you for the response. The opinion letter dated March 5, 2014 in your link gives the impression that there PROBABLY wasn’t a violation shouldering the AR-15 pistol with the SB15 attached, but the BATFE would not recommend it.

However, the opinion letter dated November 10, 2014 indicates that using the SB-15 as a stock on an AR-15 pistol would constitute designing or redesigning the firearm into a rifle and if it has a barrel that’s less than 16” it becomes and NFA firearm.

I wouldn’t want to base my actions in accordance with the information contained in BATFE opinion letters written almost 2 years ago.

Does any other THR member have anything that is current to my 3 questions?

Thanks….. Doc
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Old September 14, 2016, 08:14 AM   #4
Ryanxia
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The ATF opinion letters are all there is. There has been no law passed regarding them either way. When a company comes up with a product like that (kind of grey) they send a sample and a letter to the ATF technology branch to see if it meets muster. The ATF's opinion letter depends on whether or not that company starts selling them or redesigns because it would be illegal in the eyes of the ATF.

When they first came out people shouldered them, unfortunately people couldn't leave it alone and kept writing to the ATF asking opinions on shouldering it, then wouldn't you know, a new opinion letter stated it would be considered redesigning it to a short barrel rifle.

So:
1. Yes.
2. Yes.
3. On the remote chance you are caught AND prosecuted, the ATF claims they will prosecute based on you having redesigned that particular firearm to be fired from the shoulder, so if it has a barrel of less than 16" it is a short barrel rifle, and if you haven't paid the $200 bribe (excuse me, tax) then that is tax evasion which carries up to 10 years and a hefty fine.

It's good to clearly understand the laws but I'm sure something like ten thousand people a day shoulder them without incident.
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Old September 14, 2016, 03:27 PM   #5
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The most recent letter contained an admission of intent in the question and there are many people who claim that the response should be read in that light. Even before this letter, others claimed that a home-added SB15 might have an implication of intent that a factory installed does not.

Of course, opinion letters neither restrict or expand the letter of the law (although one might be able to argue estoppel in the case of a narrowing letter), so any opinion letter does not make anything a crime--the statute and regs authorized by the statute do.

No one want to spend untold hundreds of thousands of dollars as a test case. The bully has issues the playground challenge and no one is taking it up.

1. Yes
2. ?
3. If it is found to be illegal it would be a felony. Pretty much all NFA violations are felonies.

Mike
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Old September 14, 2016, 06:08 PM   #6
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@Ryanxia & Arizona Mike - Thank you for the responses and the detailed info, but all this BATFE opinion stuff just leaves me bewildered.

I was a street cop for 6 years and then a homicide investigator for my final 6 years before I was retired due to injuries. The term “ex post facto” comes to mind… the arrestee commits an act which is not in a substantive statute at the time and a government agency decides that it is a crime and charges you with what was their “opinion” at the time.

Clearly unconstitutional imo, but they get away with it… like I said, “…all this BATFE opinion stuff just leaves me bewildered.”
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Old September 14, 2016, 07:17 PM   #7
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The ATF has not attempted to prosecute anyone for shouldering an SB15 before the date of the most recent letter and you can be pretty sure they won't.

I have not bothered to scrub all my media and posts out there.

In my case my intent was to use an SB15 while waiting for a stamp--and I first tried it as intended--I have no use for it now.

Mike
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Old September 15, 2016, 08:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saw-Bones View Post
[B]the arrestee commits an act which is not in a substantive statute at the time and a government agency decides that it is a crime and charges you with what was their “opinion” at the time.

Clearly unconstitutional imo, but they get away with it… like I said, “…all this BATFE opinion stuff just leaves me bewildered.”
You'd be surprised at how much they do and get away with. An agency that has no problem hiring mentally retarded people to run illegal guns and then charges them, or uses female agents with alcohol and video games to get teenagers to do the same doesn't care about our Constitution.

There's a reason they are called the rogue agency and many people call for them being disbanded.
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Old September 16, 2016, 06:14 PM   #9
Aaron Baker
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Saw-Bones: here's an analogy that might help, since you were a cop. (This example is based on Kentucky law, but it's probably fairly universal.)

Murder is illegal, right? There's a statute that says so, and we all have a pretty good idea of what constitutes murder. You shoot someone on purpose and they die, it's murder, right?

For many years, people would have thought that if you were driving drunk and got into an accident that killed someone, then you'd be guilty of DUI, but that the death of the other party was still just an accident and not necessarily criminal.

Then, somewhere along the line, some prosecutors got the idea that driving drunk was "wanton" conduct that disregarded the value of human life. So they started charging people with both DUI and murder when they drove drunk and caused an accident that resulted in someone's death.

Did the statute change? No. No new law was passed. Someone just looked at a particular factual situation and decided it was criminal conduct.

Same thing here, really. Making an NFA firearm without paying the tax is a federal felony. For a while, shouldering an arm brace wasn't considering "making" an NFA firearm. Now the ATF has decided it is.

Since you're on notice from here on that they have that opinion, it's hard to argue ex post facto.

Be safe. Don't do it.

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Old September 16, 2016, 08:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
@Aaron Baker - “You shoot someone on purpose and they die, it's murder, right?”
No, It is a homicide which is defined as the killing of a human being. It becomes a murder when the act arises out of an illegal purpose, i.e.; robbery, hate, any illegal gain, domestic violence, etc. If there is no illegal activity it can be classified as either a justifiable homicide or an accidental death.

There is also a felony murder statute that that can get really convoluted and it will astound you. For example, this case I investigated: A perp robs a store and the clerk chases him outside and shoots at him and misses. The bullet strikes a passing motorist in the arm and he loses control of his vehicle causing him to drive onto the sidewalk and killing a pedestrian. The perp was charged with the murder of the pedestrian and was convicted. The thinking here is that the pedestrian would still be alive had not the perp started the chain of events set in motion by his robbery of the store. Sorry for digressing, but murder is complicated and we didn’t even get into the degrees of it.

The BATFE is a regulatory agency and as such can pass regulations that are not in the immediate purview of legislatures. There are remedies, but they are often drawn out and are very costly. I don’t think that our forefathers ever contemplated this!

I can’t comment on Kentucky’s (a great state!) death by motor vehicle laws, but in Florida where I worked the legislature passed vehicular homicide statutes to cover illegal acts resulting in death by motor vehicles.

In a strict legal sense, you are probably right about ex post facto not applying here, but if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck… it probably is a duck….. Doc
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Old September 17, 2016, 01:10 PM   #11
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No, shouldering a brace is not technically against the law. It does however violate ATF opinion. Which means you could be prosecuted for it. So, long story short, you can go to prison for not violating the law. Welcome to the deep end.
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Old September 17, 2016, 10:31 PM   #12
Aaron Baker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackal
No, shouldering a brace is not technically against the law.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saw-Bones
if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck… it probably is a duck
Apparently my murder analogy was ill-conceived and based far too much on Kentucky law, which clearly isn't universal. So let's try this another way.

On one side of this debate, you have folks that say "a brace is a brace" and that nowhere in the law has the ATF ever before made a ruling that a specific use of an item, rather than its design, determines what it is.

That's true. For the first time in history, the ATF has said that installing a particular part doesn't make a firearm into an SBR, but that using that part in a particular way (as a stock, instead of as a brace) is the act of "making" an NFA firearm.

Get that? It's weird. Installing the part isn't the "making," like it always has been in the past. Instead, using the part as a stock, instead of as a brace, is the "making."

Seems crazy. Shouldering a pistol makes it a rifle? The ATF is overreaching!

So what about the other side of this debate?

Well, let's start by agreeing that this product, as originally designed, was meant to help disabled veterans shoot their AR pistols by strapping it to their arms. Then SIG bought it, and marketed the crap out of it. It was sold as a brace, and it can be used as one, but SIG knew that based on their volume of sales, they weren't selling these to a ton of one-armed disabled veterans.

And this brace could have been designed to look like something else. It was designed to look like an AR15 collapsible stock. That's both a little strange and unnecessary if you really mean for it to be a brace. It could be made to brace your arm without being very usable as a stock. Oddly, it's useful as both.

The ATF absolutely could have rescinded its approval for this "brace" based on the fact that the vast majority of users bought it to be able to use as a stock. Instead, they likely realized that some users really needed it as a brace and didn't want to screw them over. So they said "use it as a brace, which is the marketed use, and you're fine. Use it as a stock on a pistol, and you've illegally made an SBR."

We may not like the National Firearms Act. We may think that SBRs should be legal without paying a tax. But the law is the law. So yes, Jackal, actually shouldering a brace is against the law. Because you're not fooling anyone, including the ATF, by calling it a brace. You don't shoulder a brace. It's a stock. And stocks on pistols are illegal SBRs.

If it looks like a stock, quacks like a stock and walks like a stock, it's a stock. If you want to be the test case, go for it. If it's being used as a stock, and not a brace, and you haven't paid your $200, then you're going to prison.

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