ED: Eric Blandford — better known to many in the gun world as Iraqveteran8888 — isn’t any happier about the ATF’s current jihad against pistol stabilizing braces than the rest of us. Like over 21,000 people so far, he’s submitted a comment in the Federal Register regarding the ATF’s proposed “Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with ‘Stabilizing Braces’”. Eric has kindly sent us what he’s written and allowed us to republish it here.
Acting Director Lombardo,
My name is Eric Blandford and I am a concerned citizen and veteran who runs a very well-known YouTube channel called “Iraqveteran8888” and would very much appreciate the opportunity to share my concerns with the ATF’s recent actions regarding the legality of pistol braces.
Braced handguns and FBI crime statistics
We are somehow expected to believe that in the nearly eight years that these braces have been available, they are suddenly some sort of threat to public safety or that they are used in an extraordinary number of crimes. The NFA was, after all, created with the specific intent of curbing “gang-related crime.” According to the FBI’s annual report published September 28th, 2020, the rate of violent crimes in the U.S. is on the third year of decline.
When comparing data on murder victims from 2013-2017, the firearms are broken down into their respective categories. Nowhere in the reports are braced firearms mentioned. Since the FBI does not deem it necessary to make the distinction, it shows clearly that it has never been a data point worthy of mention.
There are also no distinctions in the handgun category, even in the 2019 report for braced handguns of any type. If the ATF genuinely cared about the potential of a braced pistol having a higher chance of being used in criminal activity, why didn’t they pressure the FBI to make that distinction in their reporting?
The number of pistol braces in circulation is easily in the millions, and the data simply cannot back up the ATF’s reasoning for the proposed reclassification. It is much more likely that if the public outcry were severe enough, or if the ATF determined back in 2012 it was any issue regardless of configuration, they would never have approved the initial design at all.
The more likely reasoning for your letter, Director Lombardo, is as a response to a political landscape that allows you to maneuver more in line with your feelings towards gun owners and less about any real concern or issues, especially from the public. If the position of the ATF, DOJ, and LEOs around the country was in line with this letter, we would have known about it a long time ago.
A Political line toed perfectly
This proposal comes hot on the heels of your meeting with Biden/Harris. Is our country so corrupt that the sitting President of the United States of America is bypassed and any opinion that gets whispered in your ear becomes the gospel of the day? The ATF has been allowed to run rampant and unchecked as a rogue organization that clearly is willing to use lethal force to back up bad opinions.
The law deserves more respect and our checks and balances must be adhered to. Opinions are not laws. Alphabet agencies are not political parties. Yet this is clearly a political play and a seizure of an opportunity to enact mass registration of the items in question, perfectly in line with the Biden/Harris gun grab agenda.
The DOJ is too busy to investigate election fraud, but now, suddenly, the “issue” of braced handguns must be put to bed with only a 17-day comment period? That is highly irregular and none of us are buying that you think braced pistols represent a real threat to anyone.
This is about control, back door registration, and capitalizing on the confusion and fear caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The short comment period expertly planned around the holiday distractions is a textbook gun-grabber move.
The illegitimacy of the 1934 National Firearms Act
When the NFA was passed in 1934, its original intent was to impose a tax on the items in question so high that it would make them prohibitively expensive and too regulatorily burdensome to own. The fee to register an item under the NFA has always been referred to as a “tax.”
The Supreme Court, in Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943), ruled “The state cannot and does not have the power to license, nor tax, a Right guaranteed to the people,” and “No state shall convert a liberty into a license, and charge a fee therefore.” A similar ruling was made in Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, Alabama, 373 U.S. 262, in which the court determined, “If the State converts a right (liberty) into a privilege, the citizen can ignore the license and fee and engage in the right (liberty) with impunity.”
Self-preservation is one of the most important human rights on this planet, and the brilliant framers of our Constitution chose to recognize it clearly and concisely. The NFA is not constitutionally sound. It violates natural rights, and converts those rights into a privilege under Federal law enforcement duress.
The $200 tax is no different than a poll tax, purposefully and knowingly applied to disenfranchise gun owners specifically. In 1966, Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, the Supreme Court ruled that poll taxes were unconstitutional. So, it should be made clear that before I give my opinion on these “objective factors,” I want it known that I view the NFA as illegitimate to begin with, and it is likely the Supreme Court will too when the matter finally gets that far.
Braced pistols are in “common use” by a large subset of Americans. The gun industry has changed for the better as a result and many innovations have been made. Braces increase the safety of pistols by helping the shooter control the firearm more effectively. They help new shooters get accustomed to controlling pistols and help with recoil management for smaller statured shooters and those with disabilities.
The language of your “objective factors” proposal consistently mentions one hand being used to fire a handgun as a criteria. I am not sure where the ATF receives its training, but most pistol shooters use both hands to achieve proper control of a handgun.
I have personally witnessed wounded veterans use braced pistols in the field to take game where they otherwise would have been unable to use a firearm. I have witnessed wheelchair-bound veterans use braced pistols to continue exercising their Second Amendment rights after serving in combat.
The spirit under which these measures are proposed is purposely and willfully biased and ambiguous. The best course of action the ATF can take is to acknowledge that braced pistols are in common use among gun owners and in this modern era do not fall under the purview of the 1934 NFA.
The ATF has asserted before that certain collectible pistols that use shoulder stocks such as the Mauser C96 and the slotted Inglis Hi-Power do not fall under the purview of NFA regulation. The ATF has shown it can use common sense on these types of measures and I am confident the same can be said for braces.
The NFA actually needs to be abolished altogether, but that is a future conversation we will have involving the SCOTUS, lawmakers, and my fellow citizens. I am at your disposal to discuss this matter further.