[T]he NFA’s minimum size rules (and the ATF’s interpretations thereof) are an absurd anachronism. Those restrictions originated in a time when Congress thought it could effectively ban all small, concealable firearms, including handguns, and minimum size rules for rifles and shotguns would have been necessary to close an obvious loophole.
But even in 1934, exempting handguns from the NFA was necessary to secure sufficient support for its passage. And with the demise of the handgun ban, the minimum size rules now serve about the same function as a cancer-prone vestigial organ: They don’t accomplish anything useful, but they sure can get you into trouble.
Moreover, in recent years, the Supreme Court has not only affirmed, but underlined as fundamental the right to own handguns for lawful purposes, including self-defense. In other words, the Supreme Court has affirmed the right to own, above all else, the smallest, most concealable firearms of them all. These are arms that the overwhelming majority of gun owners depend on to protect their lives, families, and property.
All this, and yet, the ATF aggressively continues to “interpret” and enforce the NFA’s arbitrary and capricious restrictions on small firearms. Restrictions, mind you, designed to prevent you from owning the functional equivalent of a handgun — the very arm the Supreme Court has recognized lies at the very core of Second Amendment protection. In their intense and perverse crusade against small firearms, the ATF has pursued an extra-constitutional course of action. The agency inconsistently regards small firearms as verboten based on bureaucratic interpretations and determinations that are arbitrary, fluid, idiosyncratic, and unpromulgated.
Mark Houser and Matthew Larosiere in The ATF’s obsession with pistol braces is based on accidental law