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Biden Moves to Regulate Pistol Braces to Help Curb Gun Violence

May 18, 2021, 3:48 PMUpdated: May 18, 2021, 6:10 PM

The Biden administration is in the final stages of drafting a regulation on firearm accessories that can be used to make pistols more like rifles, part of the White House’s broader effort to tackle gun violence without involving Congress.

The White House received the Justice Department’s proposal to regulate stabilizing braces on Monday, according to the White House regulatory office’s website. The firearm accessory can make pistols more accurate and deadlier. It effectively transforms a pistol into a short-barreled rifle — without requiring a background check.

The proposal is one of two that President Joe Biden directed the Justice Department to write in early April, after mass shootings in Boulder, Colo., and Atlanta again called attention to sluggish action in Congress on gun violence. The Justice Department published the first proposal, to regulate unmarked firearms or so-called “ghost guns,” in early May.

Biden has largely blamed Congress for Washington’s inaction on the topic. But his directives so far stop short of some of his gun-related campaign proposals that can be achieved without the legislature, such as restructuring Justice Department resources to allow the agency to better enforce the nation’s current gun laws and addressing suicide by firearm. 60% of deaths from firearms in the U.S. are suicides, according to the latest statistics from the University of California, Davis.

The man who shot and killed 10 people in Boulder in March used a weapon with a stabilizing brace.

Previous Efforts

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the federal government’s primary gun regulator, proposed guidance on stabilizing braces late last year but rescinded it days later amid pressure from Republican lawmakers and the National Rifle Association.

Unofficial estimates suggest that there are between 10 and 40 million stabilizing braces and similar components in civilian hands in the U.S., according to the Congressional Research Service.

Separately, Biden has nominated David Chipman, a senior policy adviser at a gun safety group led by former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), to lead the ATF. The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to hold a hearing on the nomination, though Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) met with Chipman in May. The ATF has only had one Senate-confirmed director in its history.

(Everytown for Gun Safety advocates for universal background checks and other gun control measures. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg, who serves as a member of Everytown for Gun Safety’s advisory board.)

(Adds details on proposed regulation throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Courtney Rozen in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at; Cheryl Saenz at