Federal Court Rejects Bump Stock Ban Injunction, Appeal Filed


The SSAR-15 MOD from Slide Fire Solutions, the inventor of the bump stocks. (Photo: Slide Fire)

Bump stock owners have appealed last week’s ruling by a federal court that allowed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ new bump stock ban to move forward as scheduled.

The Firearms Policy Coalition along with several plaintiffs filed a motion last year in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to halt the ATF’s new rule that will require owners of bump stocks to destroy the devices by March 26, 2019.

Last week, President Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled against the injunction, arguing that Supreme Court precedent and the ambiguity of federal statutes allow the ATF to reverse their previous stance on bump stocks and outlaw the devices.

Now attorneys Stephen D. Stamboulieh and Alan Alexander Beck have filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and have requested “expedited treatment” given the urgency of the bump stock ban’s effective date.

Stamboulieh said in an email to GunsAmerica that while he can’t predict the court’s decision, he will “continue to fight to vindicate our clients’ rights.”

Unless that appeal is granted, bump stock owners will be forced to either destroy their devices or risk federal prosecution, even though at least five federal lawsuits are challenging the new rule. If any of those lawsuits prove successful and bump stocks are once more legal to own, those who destroyed their stocks will not be compensated.

SEE ALSO: NRA Releases Statement on Bump Stock Ban, Confiscation

In her denial of the injunction, Judge Friedrich argued that the challenge to the bump stock ban is “unlikely to succeed on the merits.” Her reasoning is twofold. First, the Chevron doctrine allows the ATF to “reasonably define undefined statutory terms,” and second, the law is ambiguous enough that the ATF can interpret it, basically, however it wants.

In this case, the “undefined” term is “machine gun,” which the 1934 National Firearms Act defines as:

… Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

Friedrich argues that the ATF can reasonably reinterpret “machine gun” to include “bump stocks” because “a single function of the trigger” is ambiguous enough that it can be understood to mean “a single pull of the trigger and analogous motions.”

“Automatically” is equally ambiguous, according to Friedrich, so the ATF can “reasonably interpret” this term to describe bump stocks. The devices, she says, “relieve a shooter of enough of the otherwise necessary manual inputs to warrant the ‘automatic’ label.”

In other words, since bump stock users only have to “pull” the trigger once to begin the firing cycle, and that cycle continues “automatically” until the magazine is spent, Friedrich ruled that bump stocks can be classified as machine guns. As such, despite the ATF’s previous interpretations of these statues, bump stocks would be illegal to own under the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986.

SEE ALSO: BREAKING: It’s Now Official. Trump Admin Bans Bump Stocks

Friedrich also dismissed the plaintiffs’ other reasons for requesting the injunction. She argued that the ATF’s rollout of the new rule followed the proper procedure and that the rule was not improperly issued by then acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

Finally, Friedrich asserted that even though bump stock owners will not be compensated for their devices, the Takings Clause does not warrant an injunction:

Codrea also asserts that the bump stock rule violates the Takings Clause because it fails to provide compensation to current bump stock owners who must destroy or abandon their property. Regardless of the merits of Codrea’s takings challenge, however, it does not justify preliminary injunctive relief.

The “Takings Clause” is part of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and says that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, told USA Today what most gun owners are likely thinking.

“I don’t think anyone wants an executive branch that can just make law by fiat with whatever they want for criminal penalties behind it,” Combs said. “It’s a dangerous place for our republic to say you can buy something one day and change its mind the next and send you to prison.”

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • George September 11, 2020, 12:38 pm

    I too am an NRA Life Member . I also wonder why at times . Their Mag gets thinner all the time . At least Half is just add on’s . So far I haven’t sent one dime to them . All their goodies they want to sell you is SO over priced is comical . I also see how the No longer care about US , their Members . I am looking at all the other PRO-GUNS organizations to join them, and just let the NRA float on their own . NO Donations from this Old Man . > George , Life member of the DAV , 100% Disabled VET . US Navy Retired. Living on my meager SS check and the Puny VA check. LOCK n LOAD , MOLON LABE Guys . I STAND WITH YOU .

  • Mitch March 25, 2019, 9:41 pm

    I no longer support the NRA. Weekly emails asking for money and support. They are not earning their funding. NRA has become a political house that begs for support without earning the respect of their contributors.

  • Jay March 2, 2019, 8:11 pm

    Eventually, those idiot liberals will figure out that a semi-auto firearm can be “bump-fired” w/out a special stock and ban everything out-right as “machine-guns.”

  • Jon March 2, 2019, 5:40 pm

    This is simple folks. As this is a direct violation of constitutional law you have the choice to ignore it. Keep your bump stocks, use them as intended and enjoy. When a governmental agency attempts to take it and or you warn them and if they continue fire upon them. You are well within your right to do so. The time for hot air comming out of peoples mouths is about over, its unfortunately time for action. Its all they will understand.

  • Jimbo March 1, 2019, 2:39 pm

    Today the NRA is nothing but a cash cow for paying large salaries to executive administrators while they fill your head full of horror stories so that you will continue to pay while they continue to screw you. Harlan Carter, God rest his soul, was the last time NRA has a thinking VP who also had a set of balls.

    WIth respect to NFA ’34 and it’s wording, let me say this:

    (1) I am a “Lib’turd” who owns numerous firearms ( something that the Mr. Potato Heads among you say doesn’t exist, because we’re all supposed to hate guns, you know? ), and

    (2) Something too that the same Potato Heads should be courting because you’re going to need all the help in numbers you can get in order to win this fight ( because 3 million subscribers is like Custer at the Little Big Horn, ya know? ), and

    (3) More importantly, when a government tells us that we cannot own — at least the “equal” — of weaponry as the people trying to kill us has at their disposal, said government is no longer a “representative” government, it also no longer has any moral imperative by which to claim we owe it allegiance and obedience.

  • William March 1, 2019, 12:48 pm

    GOA is working with a similar case in Michigan. The circuit judges there have a track record of being favorable to the Second Amendment. Wouldn’t it be great if a presiding judge could actually see the pulling of the trigger for each shot fired and have an understanding or see and learn/understand the mechanics involved. This lady judge in the DC Circuit has NO understanding of the mechanics involved which are necessary for comprehending the correct meaning of the definitions.

    As a GOA member, there is no fluff or marketing schemes like with the NRA. They are truly the activist guardians of the Second Amendment period, no back-pedaling. And, if you join for $20 per year you will receive very frequent emails requesting that you notify your state and Federal reps concerning various legislation making way to becoming law. Very easy to support the GOA.

  • John March 1, 2019, 11:29 am

    They are slowly squeezing us by banning magazines over 10 rounds and restricting ammunition sales. Parkland was probably the most preventable shooting of all times. Law enforcement failed being called to his home over 30 times and doing nothing. The FBI dismissed 2 warnings
    Yet they rushed to go on tv blaming the NRA and law abiding gun owners

  • Reb1 March 1, 2019, 11:02 am

    Law abiding citizens have once again been screwed by their government!

  • Jay March 1, 2019, 7:38 am

    “Friedrich argues that the ATF can reasonably reinterpret “machine gun” to include “bump stocks” because “a single function of the trigger” is ambiguous enough that it can be understood to mean “a single pull of the trigger and analogous motions.”
    This statement by the ATF means that any gun with a trigger for that matter can be classified as an automatic if they want tot!
    This is dangerous territory folks. If this ruling or law goes through don’t think it’s over, they will reverse more until you don’t have a gun at all!

  • Mike V February 27, 2019, 6:17 pm

    I have no faith that these people will make this right.

    Bump stock ownership just doesn’t matter to people. It takes a bit of technical understanding on the device and the law, which most don’t have.

    The President sacrificed us and everyone is just rolling over on it.

    Think the ATF isn’t your enemy? When they got the political cover they needed, they pull this stunt. Think that won’t happen again?

    Half a million Citizens are made felons with the wave of a wand.

    “The most pro second amendment President” creates a half million felons, people who are probably his own followers and supporters…

    Dirty, very dirty.

    • Lost March 1, 2019, 4:09 am

      You can particularly thank Chris Cox and the NRA.

      • Alex Zermeno March 1, 2019, 7:17 am

        NRA isn’t our friend. GOA is. I’m an NRA life member and I stopped giving them $ decades ago… Hell they don’t even send me the magazine anymore. NRA=Empty promises. I just keep stacking, unlimited debt + Uncle Sugar funding all the gibs me dats peoples and programs will eventually bring this all to a head.

        • Jimbo March 1, 2019, 2:48 pm

          re: NRA isn’t our friend. GOA is.

          And, in time, they will not be either.

          The only thing that is going to keep one of these “organizations” on our side — be it NRA or GOA — is to vote the bastards out, or “starve” them out with a lack of our dollars.

          That, the vote, is the most important right the Framers ever had the gumption to realize. Fuck Wayne La Peepee, fuck the NRA.

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