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Gun Rights Groups File Amicus Brief to Overturn Unconstitutional Bump Stock Ban

By: Teresa Mull

Earlier this month, the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) joined forces with Gun Owners of America (GOA) to put an end to the unconstitutional ban on bump stocks President Trump approved earlier this year.

GPM reported in March 2019:

The Trump Administration’s ban on bump stocks went into effect yesterday, officially making selling or owning one of the firearms accessories a crime punishable with up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Reuters reports:

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday rejected a bid by gun rights activists to put on hold a ban by President Donald Trump’s administration on “bump stock” gun attachments that enable semi-automatic weapons to be fired rapidly.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor has not yet acted on another similar request. The ban goes into effect on Tuesday but lower courts have yet to rule on an appeals brought by gun rights activists in Michigan and the U.S. capital.

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted his objection to the new law, writing:

The executive bump stock ban that goes into effect today is unconstitutional. It’s also an ugly preview of how future gun bans could be implemented. This is a sad day for America.

The ATF under President Obama ruled that bump stocks were legal and now President Trump has directed them to reverse that legal opinion without compensating owners for the confiscation or destruction of formally legal property.

The role of the executive branch is to execute the laws faithfully, not to rewrite them.

“GOA filed a lawsuit in Michigan challenging the validity of the Trump Administration’s ban on so-called bump stocks,” NAGR’s in-house attorney James Bardwell told GPM. “After a number of decisions by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) that such items were not regulated by federal law, ATF reversed those decisions and decided that bump stocks convert guns into machine guns, and thus were machine guns in themselves, under federal law. The impetus for this reversal was the supposed use of firearms equipped with these devices by a mass murderer in Las Vegas in 2017.

“The trial court refused to stop enforcement of the ATF rule change before a trial, so GOA appealed to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Bardwell explained. “GOA made several arguments for why the bump stock ban was unconstitutional. As an amicus curiae – “friend of the court” – NAGR submitted a brief offering legal argument on issues GOA was not able to address in depth, due to limits on the size of allowed briefs. NAGR argued that the bump stock ban was an unconstitutional taking of private property, under the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution.”

NAGR’s press release on the matter is reprinted below:

Washington D.C. – On July, 1st 2019, the National Association for Gun Rights legal foundation filed an amicus brief in support of the Gun Owners of America V. Barr case in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

On December, 26th 2018 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) reversed a long held policy by reclassifying “bump stocks” as machineguns thus making ownership, possession, and sale of these accessories illegal unless registered as an NFA Item.

Upon implementation of this rule, “bump stocks” possessed by citizens became contraband, and owners were without any real ability to lawfully own or sell their legally purchased accessories.

The amicus brief, filed by the National Foundation for Gun Rights on behalf of its parent organization, argues that this equates to the government confiscating private property without constitutionally guaranteed compensation.

“The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that private property cannot be taken without just compensation,” said Dudley Brown, President of the National Association for Gun Rights.

“Ordering citizens to destroy or turn in their legally purchased private property without fair compensation is unconstitutional. Of course, we do not think ‘bump stocks’ should be illegal at all as they’re merely a firearms accessory like magazines, scopes, and telescoping buttstocks,” said Brown. “If the government is going to order you to destroy your once legal property they must compensate you for that loss of property.”

In addition to violating the Fifth Amendment, the ATF’s ban on “bump stocks” sets a dangerous precedent that opens the door for a federal bureaucracy to redefine the function of more firearms accessories in order to ban additional legally purchased property.

Because of these violations it is the position of the National Association for Gun Rights in the amicus brief that the ban on “bump stocks” should be overturned.

Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at teresa@gunpowdermagazine.com.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.