In the wake of Las Vegas, a lot of people wanted to ban bump stocks. They were blamed for the unprecedented slaughter we saw that night and people wanted to make sure no one could do such a thing ever again. Eventually, President Donald Trump agreed.
While Democrats were crafting legislation, Trump had his ATF craft a rule banning the devices.
The bump stock ban was easily the most controversial move made by the Trump administration with regard to the Second Amendment.
Now, 22 attorney generals have filed a brief challenging the ban.
Twenty-two state attorneys general, led by AGs from Montana and West Virginia, have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court over a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) rule they argue would immediately transform hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners into criminals.
Through its rulemaking, the ATF is attempting to regulate bump-stock accessories by claiming that they transform the firearms they attach to into machine guns as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934.
The AGs filed an amicus brief in support of Gun Owners of America, Inc., which sued U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and are asking the court to hear the case after the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was evenly split on the issue.
The ATF’s rule is a way for the federal agency to circumvent Congress and rewrite law that only Congress has the authority to do, the AGs argue.
“The Final Rule effectively transforms commonly owned firearms into banned machine guns simply because of the use of non-mechanical bump-stock accessories. This interpretation categorically expands the text of the criminal statute in a way that Congress couldn’t possibly have intended,” they argue in their brief. “And it expands criminal liability at the expense of Second Amendment rights, diminishing the latter absent a sufficient and compelling justification. When the ATF – or any agency – invades protected rights by interpreting statutes too broadly, this Court should step in.”
And honestly, I agree with the brief.
Look, the legal definition of a machine gun is a firearm that is capable of firing more than one round with a single pull of the trigger.
A bump stock attached to a semi-automatic weapon doesn’t fundamentally change how that weapon functions. It still only fires a single shot per pull of the trigger. All the bump stock does is increase the speed of being able to pull that trigger.
The same thing can be done with a belt loop or a rubber band.
So the ban on these devices means that the ATF can essentially redefine the law at will, simply because they want to. That’s going well beyond the authority given to them by Congress in the first place.
This is why these AGs are stepping in.
The truth is that the bump stock ban wasn’t just unconstitutional, it was illegal under other federal laws as well. The ATF simply didn’t have the authority to regulate them out of existence.
With luck, we’ll see this ban thrown out in the very near future.