ATF wins bump stock ban challenge

(AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

Bump stocks weren’t on anyone’s radar until Las Vegas.

After that, suddenly not only was everyone an expert on them, but they were also experts as to just why they never should have been allowed to exist in the first place.


So, the ATF rescinded the previous decision authorizing their sale. Suddenly, having one was tantamount to having a machine gun.

That led to challenges. So far, the ATF has fended them off. Now, they’ve done it once more.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a 2019 federal rule banning so-called “bump stocks,” a rapid-fire gun attachment that was used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that guns equipped with bump stocks qualify as machine guns, which federal law almost entirely bans. The decision was a setback for the Sacramento, California-based non-profit Firearms Policy Coalition and other gun rights advocacy groups that had sued to challenge the rule.

“We are disappointed but not surprised at the result,” said Erik Jaffe, who represents the gun rights groups. “We think the court made a number of factual and legal errors that we plan in pointing out in further appellate proceedings.”

A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the federal agency that oversees gun regulation, declined to comment.

Now, this isn’t great news. Let’s not pretend that it is.

However, note Jaffe’s comments. In particular, that bit about “further appellate proceedings.”

This was never planned to be the last stop on this case. This is just one bump in the road, and one I suspect is actually planned.

After all, if you want to put a case like this in front of the Supreme Court, this is the court you want to do it with.


You see, bump stocks are not machine guns. They never were machine guns. They simply made it easier to use a technique that people used before such stocks were available and continued to be afterward. The definition of a machine gun is a weapon that fires more than one round with a single pull of a trigger, and bump stocks don’t change how many trigger pulls are needed.

As such, the court’s claim that this regulation is consistent with the law is baffling.

Meanwhile, Lord only knows how many Americans destroyed their bump stocks to comply with a blatantly unconstitutional law.

That means we’re looking at this going further and eventually being overturned completely. That’s a big win for gun rights.

However, that’s still going to take time.

Yet when it is eventually overturned, one has to wonder just how many laws it’ll take with it. Could this be the case that kills the National Firearms Act and puts machine guns back on your regular gun store shelves? Could this be the case that lets you decide on a whim to pick up a suppressor on your way home from work?

It’s really too early to tell, but what I can say with some degree of confidence is that I don’t see this ruling standing in the long term.

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