Why this gun store owner is fighting ATF's bump stock ban

Last week we covered the big news that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled the ATF’s 2019 re-classification of bump stocks as “machine guns” was a legal no-no, declaring that the agency had overstepped its authority and assumed legislative powers far beyond its purview when it declared that possessing or manufacturing bump stocks was suddenly a federal felony offense.


That case, known as Cargill v. Garland, is likely to be appealed by the Justice Department to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co I’m pleased to welcome the named plaintiff in that case to the show. Michael Cargill has been a guest before, of course. The owner of Central Texas Gun Works is a longtime Second Amendment activist, and this isn’t his first (or last) time to step in to the arena to challenge governmental overreach; something he says is central to the current legal challenge.

“I said if they come after this one item, we open the door and allow them to do this without fighting back, they’re coming after triggers, they’re gonna come after AR pistols, they’re gonna come after braces… everything,” Cargill explained. “Eighty-percent lower receivers, and without Congress passing a law. That’s not how things are done in this country. We have a Constitution, we have a Bill of Rights. It’s not called a Bill of Needs, it’s a Bill of Rights. And so, I said ‘I gotta do something,’ because if I don’t then all these items, you know, I have them inside my home.”

“And you mean to tell me that the federal government, the ATF is going to ban something, something I purchased legally; all of a sudden they’re gonna come back and say ‘hey, it’s illegal, we’re going to confiscate them from you, and then if you don’t give them up we’re going to make you a felon overnight,'” Cargill continued. “That is insane. That’s not how our forefathers framed this country. That’s not how it’s written in our Constitution. So I decided to stand up and fight.”


Cargill notes that it wasn’t a particularly popular decision at the time with many ostensible allies. The ATF’s move to ban bump stocks was the Trump administration’s political response to the Las Vegas shooting in which 60 people were murdered and hundreds were injured by a man who used a hotel room overlooking the Route 91 Harvest Festival to fire down on concertgoers with multiple weapons, including several that had been equipped with bump stocks, allowing them to rapidly fire. Criticism of the ATF’s decision was fairly muted among many conservatives (and even some 2A supporters), but Cargill says even those who think the devices should be illegal should also have a problem with how the ban was enacted; not through a vote by Congress but through an administrative edict.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concurred in its 13-3 decision rejecting the ATF’s ban, noting that the opinion isn’t meant to be a reflection on the inherent value (or lack thereof) of bump stocks themselves, but rather a necessary intervention in an agency’s overstepping its authority. Cargill’s case isn’t the only federal challenge to the bump stock rule, but his is the first to be decided at trial, and the Supreme Court will get its first opportunity to grant cert and decide this issue once the Justice Department formally files its appeal. While there’s no formal split in the lower courts yet, other appellate courts have ruled to keep the ban in place while those separate challenges proceed because they believe the plaintiffs are unlikely to win on the merits, and Cargill expressed confidence that justices will agree to accept Cargill v. Garland when it arrives on the SCOTUS steps later this year.


You can check out the entire conversation with Michael Cargill in the video below, which not only includes a beefy discussion on bump stocks but his advice to Illinois gun owners and FFLs who are now living under the state’s new ban on “large capacity” magazine and so-called assault weapons. It’s a great discussion, and I look forward to keeping it going with Michael in the very near future.

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