The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) clarified its opinion Tuesday on whether putting an arm brace designed to stabilize certain pistols against one’s shoulder constitutes “redesigning” them into highly regulated short-barrel rifles, effectively reversing its previous position from a 2015 official letter.

“To the extent the January 2015 Open Letter implied or has been construed to hold that incidental, sporadic, or situational ‘use’ of an arm-brace (in its original approved configuration) equipped firearm from a firing position at or near the shoulder was sufficient to constitute ‘redesign,’ such interpretations are incorrect and not consistent with the ATF’s interpretation of the statute or the manner in which it has historically been enforced,” ATF assistant director Marvin Richardson wrote in an official letter.

The ATF’s opinion deals with a complicated part of the National Firearms Act of 1934. That federal law sets standards for which firearms are subject to a special tax and registration with the federal government. One type of firearm regulated under the act are short-barrel rifles, which have rifled barrels under 16 inches in length and are designed to be fired with the stock of the firearm pressed against the shooter’s shoulder.

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