In his wonderful history of the Spanish Armada, Garrett Mattingly describes the Spanish Monarch, Philip II, as sitting at his desk in the Palacio Escorial, poring over documents “eyes red-rimmed, fingers aching, hard at work at his self-appointed task as Chief Clerk of the Spanish Empire.”

Unfortunately, I don’t think my little shack outside of Amherst, MA qualifies as a latter-day Escorial palace, but I do Iike to think of myself as the Chief Clerk of the Gun Violence Prevention empire, whose jobs it is to explain to all my friends in Gun-control Nation what things mean and don’t mean when it comes to guns.

In that respect, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has just released a proposal to regulate a gun accessory called a ‘stabilizing brace,’ a piece of plastic which when attached to a handgun allows the user to shoot it like a rifle, even though the short barrel means that it should be regulated as an NFA gun.  What does that mean?

It means that in order to purchase a stabilizing brace, the prospective owner has to go through a very extensive background check (actually two background checks), pay a substantial licensing fee to the U.S. Treasury, and then sit around for a couple of months until all the paperwork is processed, and he can go to the gun shop and pick up his brace.

Here’s what a standard, Glock pistol looks like:

And here’s what the same gun looks like with a stabilizing brace:

Get it?  With the brace attached to the gun, you get more stability, particularly when you are banging off a lot of shots as fast as you can. More stability means more accuracy, more accuracy means more injuries if you walk into a public space with your brace-equipped gun and start banging away. In fact, guns with stabilizing braces were used in several mass shootings over the recent months, including a shooting in Colorado this past March.

The ATF initially begun looking at the stabilizing brace issue back in December, issuing a notice that was withdrawn five days later after the usual gaggle of NRA-loving members of the GOP caucus started to squawk. Now the notice has been republished and will no doubt generate the usual pro-gun noise but Trump’s out, Joe’s in and that’s the end of that.

The stabilizing braces were sold and promoted as a device that would allow disabled military veterans to shoot their handguns even if they only had full use of one arm. Nobody really paid attention to the issue either way, and of course the moment that any product hits the market that is designed to make life easier for our wounded warriors, who would dare raise a dissenting peep?

I will if you don’t mind. And if some of my readers mind, bully for them.

First of all, anyone who has to point and shoot a handgun using only one arm is doing something which is foolish and unsafe, I don’t care whether the gun is equipped with a stabilizing brace or not. Aiming a handgun with any degree of real accuracy is difficult enough with two arms and two hands, never mind one arm, one hand and a plastic gizmo resting against your chest.

Second and more important, a gun being held in one hand that gives a pretty good kick when it goes off is a gun that is likely to be dropped on the ground or on the table in front of the bench rest.  Know what happens when guns are dropped? No matter what all the advertising says, sometimes they go off. And a gun that discharges a 9mm round at 1,200 feet per second in a direction that isn’t under the shooter’s control is a gun that isn’t safe. Period.

I used to have a collection of model trains. Sometimes I waited more than a couple of months to add a certain car to a model train. So, I waited. So what?

I would give any disabled veteran a pass on paying the NFA license fee, but what would be so bad if all the guys who want to shoot their pistols like rifles have to wait a few months before they can use their new toy?

Sandy Hook: A Man Sold A Gun (Guns in America Book 7) – Kindle edition by Weisser, Michael R.. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @