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Biden will regulate gun device possibly used in Boulder shooting

Guns with stabilizing braces will be regulated under Firearms Act

A gun accessory possibly used by the gunman who killed 10 people at a Boulder King Sooper’s last month will be more regulated by the federal government, President Joe Biden said Wednesday as he announced a number of measures aimed at combating gun violence.

So-called stabilizing braces, which can make a pistol more accurate and more akin to a rifle, will soon be regulated under the National Firearms Act. The change means people buying a stabilizing brace for a pistol will have to pay an extra $200 and submit more identifying information to the government through a registry.

“A stabilizing brace … essentially makes that pistol a hell of a lot more accurate and a mini rifle,” Biden said. “As a result, it’s more lethal, effectively turning it into a short-barreled rifle. That’s what the alleged shooter in Boulder appears to have done.”

The National Firearms Act was passed in 1934 and aims to curtail the sale of certain weapons used in criminal activity. U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat whose district includes the King Soopers that was attacked on March 21, asked the president to make the change. Guns and accessories currently regulated under the National Firearms Act include:

Shotguns with a barrel length less than 18 inches.Rifles with a barrel length less than 16 inches.Silencers.The 21-year-old alleged Boulder gunman used an AR-556 pistol, essentially a small version of the popular AR-15 rifle, that he legally purchased. He also had a semi-automatic handgun, though authorities don’t believe it was used in the attack.

AR-556 weapons are often modified with a stabilizing brace. It’s not clear if the Boulder gunman used such a brace.

Investigators have declined to provide more information about the weapons used in the attack.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will publish a proposed rule regulating stabilizing braces.

“We will make clear that statutory restrictions on short-barreled rifles apply when certain stabilizing braces are added to high-powered pistols,” Garland said. “Federal law requires that taxation and registration of all short-barreled rifles. It does so because these weapons are powerful, yet easily concealable.”

Garland said stabilizing braces make high-powered pistols more stable and accurate while still concealable, and thus more deadly.

“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic,” Biden said, “and it’s an international embarrassment.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article. The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.

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