Courts Hand Gun Owners Two Big Wins

Honey Badger AR pistol
The Honey Badger AR pistol, seen with the arm brace collapsed and extended, should be legal to own again after last week's court ruling.

Those of us who are in favor of gun rights or who don’t like to see government agencies make up laws as they go along (only Congress can pass federal laws) had two big court victories last week.

Pistol Brace Rule Overturned

First, and closest to my heart, the court stayed the ATF’s ruling that pistols with arm braces are in fact short-barreled rifles and therefore illegal unless you have paid the $200 fee for a tax stamp and registered them with the ATF. In the past, the stays have applied only to the plaintiffs, which included all the members of certain gun groups, like the Firearms Policy Coalition. This time, in Britto v ATF, the judge issued a nationwide injunction preventing the ATF from enforcing the regulation. Until they win an appeal or a higher court stops the injunction, the law is unenforceable.

Have I rushed out and put arm braces on my pistols? No. I have been waiting this out since early summer. I’m going to wait it out before I start carrying a AR-style pistol with an arm brace in my car. (See our recent post on carrying heavy.) Review the ruling and use your own judgment.

Frame and Receiver Regulations Defeated

The ATF used some twisted logic and dozens of pages of regulations to say that 80-percent lowers are firearms, and therefore must carry serial numbers and can only be sold by Federal Firearms License Holders. Before they issued this rule, you could buy an 80 percent receiver and use a drill press, lathe, or other tools to make your own frame or receiver for your own personal use. In fact, for hundreds of years, there was no prohibition on building your own gun. Serial numbers weren’t even required until 1968, although many manufacturers used them before that.

Once Biden got elected, he encouraged the ATF to change that rule to prevent so-called “ghost guns.” This rule not only violated the law, it violated common sense. Criminals can acquire guns through legal or illegal channels and file the serial number off far easier than they can build an 80-percent lower into a working gun.

 In VanDerStock v Garland, the court said the ATF cannot legislate and declared the ATF’s new rule unlawful. The court also chided the ATF for making what had been legal for decades illegal on a whim. (Sorry Joe.)

This is a major win for companies like Polymer80 that sell plastic kits that you can make into frames very similar to the Glock frame. It is also a win for me and you, and it clears the way for people with 3D printers to keep making gun parts. For those with privacy concerns or who fear the government will show up one day and confiscate their guns, the ability to legally build guns that the government doesn’t know about is currently restored.

Keep in mind, this could also be appealed and end up in the Supreme Court, so the injunction is probably not final.


Suppressors, sometimes called silencers , still require the tax stamp, but there is a bill pending in Congress to shorten the wait time for approval to 90 days. Right now, it’s running twice that.

I have a .30 caliber suppressor and I am considering buying one for my 5.56 rifles. Silencer Central currently offers a deal where if you buy a 5.56 suppressor, they will throw in a free .22LR suppressor. (You have to pay for two tax stamps, of course.) They run this Black Friday special every year, and I admit I’m tempted.

For Preppers

A prepper can benefit from having a suppressor. The advantages include the ability to kill small game with a very low sound signature using a .22LR rifle. This allows you to fill your strew pot or casserole dish without attracting the attention of anyone who might otherwise hear a gunshot. For a larger rifle, the same principle applies to a deer or other large game animal. A .308 or supersonic .300 Blackout are much louder than a .22, but in our mountains, the sound will bounce around and it is harder to pinpoint where the shot came from. Still, use with caution if you are trying to stay hidden and never fire more than one shot.

Suppressors may offer another advantage. People near the target can usually tell the general direction from which a bullet is fired and return fire. With a suppressor, there is no initial “bang,” just the crack of a subsonic bullet breaking the sound barrier as it flies by. That makes it harder for people in the target area to pin down the origin of a bullet. If you are in a sniper hide and trying to remain undetected, you should still withdraw or shift positions after firing three or fewer shots, but a suppressor will help keep you undetected.

With my .30 caliber suppressor, I can shoot subsonic .300 Blackout and it is very quiet, almost as silent as the movies would have you believe. This can also work to your advantage, but I hope most preppers don’t end up in a scenario where they need to take out sentries without alerting the enemy. If so, subsonic ammo and a good suppressor are the way to go unless you are a knife expert.

Plowshares and Swords

In the Book if Isaiah, it says “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” One of my firearm trainers had a response to this Bible verse, and it has stuck with me. He said, “Those that beat their swords into ploughshares will plow for those who don’t.” That is consistent with my observations about how the world works.

Like most of us, I would prefer to live and work on my little homestead farm in peace, but if someone comes for it or seeks to do me and my family harm, I will defend my homestead and my family. That is better done with a sword than a plow, and better yet, with a gun. That might call for an AR pistol with an arm brace. It may call for a homemade gun no one knows I have. It might even call for a gun with a suppressor. We won’t know, but we can be glad to have those options.

I encourage responsible preppers to carry a gun on their body and have a long gun accessible in their car or house. When faced with trouble, let not your last thought be, “If I only had my gun.”

Read more about the ins and outs of carrying concealed.