One can understand why the bump stock ban was done without approving of it being done. For better or worse, the reasoning behind the ATF unilaterally deciding to reclassify the device as a machine gun was arguably sound–if it’s done that way, it cuts the legs out of much more restrictive legislation that had a really good chance of becoming law.
But the problem is that there was no grounds for that to happen. The National Firearm Act defines a machine gun quite specifically and it’s not “it can shoot so fast anti-gunners wet themselves.”
I know. I checked.
The reclassification led to a legal challenge, unsurprisingly. That challenges is going to the Supreme Court and folks are filing briefs.
One of those groups doing so is the Firearms Policy Coalition.
Today, lawyers for Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) filed an important brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of Garland v. Cargill, which challenges the federal ban on bump-stock devices. The brief can be viewed at FPCLegal.org.
“FPC and our members have fiercely fought this unconstitutional and lawless executive abuse from the very beginning,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “As our brief explains, bump-stock devices are not, and have never been, machine guns. The Supreme Court must affirm the decision below and make it clear that not even the United States President can rewrite the laws Congress enacts.”
“When ATF first considered the legality of bump stocks over twenty years ago, it correctly concluded that they do not qualify as ‘machineguns,’” argues the brief. “Yet in 2018, in the face of acute political pressure, the agency reversed course and adopted a new definition of the term that encompasses the bump stocks at issue. Petitioners’ defense of that newfound interpretation either ignores the statute Congress enacted or seeks to rewrite it.”
Of course, the FPC isn’t the only one filing amicus briefs. The NSSF, National Association for Gun Rights, the NRA, and GOA are among the groups who either filed on their own or partnered with other organizations to file briefs.
Yet here, I’m in agreement with the FPC: Bump stocks are not and never will be machine guns until or unless Congress changes the definition.
They haven’t done that, so the ATF has no legal basis to reclassify bump stocks as anything other than a firearms accessory that doesn’t change the gun into anything.
Let’s remember that bump stocks enable people to bump fire. So do belt loops and rubber bands. Bump fire is perfectly legal in and of itself and using a firearm in conjunction with a belt loop or a rubber band is legal as well.
But when you build something specifically to facilitate a legal practice, it’s now a machine gun? No, it’s really not.
That’s because the NFA specifically defines a machine gun as a weapon capable of firing more than one round with a single pull of the trigger. There’s no mention of something that also allows you to pull the trigger faster, which is the “sin” of a bump stock.
I honestly don’t see how any serious mind can look at the law and think the ATF got this one right. FPC and others are basically calling on the Supreme Court to right a serious wrong, and I sincerely hope they do.