By: José Niño

Firearms manufacturer Q, LLC has been placed under the bureaucratic microscope for its “Honey Badger” pistol.

In early August, the ATF sent Q a letter stating that the firearms manufacturer’s Honey Badger pistol classifies as a “short-barreled” rifle simply for featuring a stabilizing brace. The ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) determined, “[T]he objective features of the Honey Badger firearm, configured with the subject stabilizing brace, indicate the firearm is designed and intended to be fired from the shoulder,” after conducting a review on a sample of the Honey Badger pistol. Due to this change in classification, the National Firearms Act (NFA) must be applied to this firearm. As a result, this firearm will have a $200 transfer tax imposed on it in accordance to the NFA’s guidelines.

On October 6, 2020, Q sent a letterto its customers highlighting what the firearms manufactures has had to put up with in their dealings with the ATF. It read as follows:

Dear Customer:

On August 3rd, 2020, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) issued Q® a formal Cease & Desist letter, notifying us that ATF has taken the position that the Q Honey Badger Pistol is a short-barreled rifle (“SBR”) regulated under the National Firearms Act (“NFA”). In response, Q has ceased all production of the Honey Badger Pistol, and submitted a comprehensive letter to ATF and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) stating why we disagree with this classification[1]. Additionally, we have provided recommendations on how to address the firearms already in circulation. Q is seeking solutions that best protect you, the individual, and Q’s distribution network from falling out of compliance with ATF regulations, and federal law. At this time, Q has not received any definitive guidance from the ATF.

Curiously, starting in 2012, the ATF came to the conclusion that firearms equipped with stabilizing braces are not “designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.” As a result of this previous decision, pistol braces did not fall under the regulatory umbrella of the NFA.

Like any unaccountable government agency, the ATF is now changing the rules of the game. The arbitrary reclassification of firearms presents a huge headache for gun manufacturers, vendors, and owners alike. Unfortunately, that’s how these regulatory monstrosities work, and they will continue to operate in such a fashion unless they are stripped of their powers.

Thankfully, a number of organizations weren’t going to put up with the ATF’s underhanded ways of attacking the Second Amendment. In a statement released on October 6, 2020, the Firearms Policy Coalition criticizedthe ATF’s decision to classify the Honey Badger pistol as a short-barreled rifle. The grassroots gun rights group asserted that this action was “devoid of logic and reason, contains no explanation as to the manner in which it arrived at its conclusion, conflicts with its prior determinations, and embodies the very essence of ‘arbitrary and capricious.’”

The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) also had choice words about the ATF’s decision. NAGR’s President Dudley Brown said:

“This is an extremely dangerous opinion by the ATF. Right now, the most popular AR-15 build is the ‘pistol brace’ version, and this Honey Badger ruling could signal the ATF is pulling the rug out from that growing section of American gun owners.

“As long as our gun rights are funneled through a Federal regulatory bureaucracy like the ATF, freedom will always take a back seat to authoritarian control.”

Gun owners must be on the lookout for not just anti-Second Amendment legislation being moved forward, but also regulatory edicts that transgress on our right to self-defense.

With all this talk about defunding the police, how about we defund the ATF instead? This would be a net positive for America and keep the ATF from further harassing lawful gun owners.

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José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.