Austin gun rights activist sues ATF over bump stock ban
AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - A local gun store owner and gun rights activist has filed a lawsuit against the ATF because of the bump stock ban. The federal ban follows a December decision by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bump stock owners were given 90 days to comply by destroying or turning in the devices, but that period ends at midnight.
Central Texas Gun Works owner Michael Cargill turned in his bump stocks to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) field office Monday. However, he refused to sign paperwork allowing the devices to be destroyed.
“I'm going to comply. I'm going to turn it in, but I'm going to fight. I'm going to fight for everyone in the State of Texas and this country,” Cargill said.
In October 2017, a shooter in Las Vegas fired into a crowd from a Mandalay Bay hotel room, killing 58 and injuring hundreds. Authorities said some of the firearms used were equipped with bump stocks, spurring political pressure to ban the devices nationwide.
“After Las Vegas, it was undeniable what they do and it was undeniable the destructive power they have and they had to act,” said Ed Scruggs, vice chair of Texas Gun Sense.
A bump stock attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to allow a shooter to fire continuously by using the recoil of the firearm to hit the trigger in rapid succession.
“For practical use it serves no purpose, other than to kill more people, so why in this society, with the violence going on now, do we need those?" Scruggs said. "There's just no practical reason for it,”
Originally, the ATF said bump stocks could not be banned through regulation because they didn't fall under the legal definition of a machine gun, meaning the trigger still has to be pulled for each shot. In 2018, they changed that stance, claiming bump stocks could fall under the machine gun definition and the Department of Justice issued the ruling stating that bans against fully automatic weapons also cover bump stocks.
“There needs to be a clear message sent to the federal government that, as a citizen who legally purchased an item, I should be able to have that item,” said Cargill.
Cargill and the New Civil Liberties Alliance law firm said the lawsuit is based on the fact that the Justice Department doesn't have the right to issue the ban. Instead, they said Congress is solely responsible for changing the law.
“Well, the power of a regulatory agency, they can change regulations all the time,” Scruggs said.
Cargill is suing the ATF, the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Justice to overturn the regulation.
“If you step on the rights of the people who believe in the second amendment, then my job is to put my foot on your throat,” said Cargill.
Anyone found in possession of a bump stock after the deadline can face fines and up to ten years in prison.