By: Teresa Mull
The Trump Administration’s ban on bump stocks went into effect on March 26, 2019, 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.
The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram reports that because of the new ban, RW Arms, a firearms dealer in Fort Worth, Texas, was forced “to send its entire inventory of bump stocks to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives … The bump stocks were taken to American Shredder to be shredded and recycled.”
Now, RW Arms is suing the government.
According to the Star-Telegram:
RW Arms filed the lawsuit claiming the Fifth Amendment takings clause, which bans the government from seizing private property for public use without just compensation. The lawsuit also argues that the bump stocks have been long-defined by the ATF as a firearm part and therefore are not regulated as a firearm under the Gun Control Act of 1968 or the National Firearms Act of 1934.
“Between 2008 and 2017 the ATF also issued many classification decisions concluding that certain other bump-stock-type devices, that did not rely on springs, were not machineguns,” the lawsuit says. “The ATF indicated that semiautomatic firearms modified with these bump-stocktype devices did not fire ‘automatically,’ and were thus not ‘machineguns,’ because the devices did not rely on internal springs or similar mechanical parts to channel recoil energy. The ATF classified these bumps-stock devices as firearm accessories which are not subject to regulation.”
Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted his objection to the bump stock ban when it went into effect, 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.”
Ongoing Fight in Michigan
GPM reported earlier this year that Gun Owners of America (GOA) had filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Michigan challenging the Trump Administration’s bump stock ban.
In mid-December, DOJ amended the regulations of the ATF clarifying that bump stocks should be considered “machineguns” because they allow “a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger,” the Department’s press release stated.
“In a move which is almost certainly illegal, BATF ‘gives’ bump stock owners 90 days to destroy their $300 piece of property -- or to bring it into a BATF office for relinquishment without any compensation whatsoever,” Michael Hammond, legislative director for GOA told Gunpowder Magazine.
“The Ninth Circuit has recently held that California’s retroactive ban on and seizure of magazines is an unconstitutional ‘taking’ under the regulatory ‘takings’ doctrine under … the Fifth Amendment. This almost certainly follows that precedent.”
GOA’s lawsuit challenges this designation by arguing, “ATF has acknowledged that such devices, which have ‘no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and perform no automatic mechanical function when installed,’ are not machineguns under federal law.”
Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.