US bump stock ban struck down following Austin gun store owner's lawsuit
AUSTIN, Texas - A federal appeals court struck down a ban on bump stocks, a firearm accessory that enables a semi-automatic gun to shoot at an increased rate of fire. The ban was enacted after the 2017 massacre in Last Vegas where a gunman killed 58 people at a music festival.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans decided the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives did not have the authority to define bump stocks as machine guns, which are heavily restricted. The Court said ATF did not have the authority from Congress to ban bump stocks.
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.
Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote in the opinion, "A plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of 'machine gun' set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act."
Bump stocks were used in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people and injured hundreds and it spurred political pressure to ban the devices nationwide. At the end of 2018, the Justice Department gave bump stock owners 90 days to destroy or turn in the devices.
"What happened in Las Vegas was terrible, but to do a knee-jerk reaction and just to go into everyone’s home in the United States and grab a particular product just because a person might have used that product is not the American way," Central Texas Gun Works owner Michael Cargill said.
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Cargill surrendered his bump stocks, but said he wanted to fight against it, so he filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and ATF.
"If you're not a gun person, take that out of your mind, remove the word gun from it, pick any product in your home and all of a sudden a federal agency comes in and says you purchased that gun legally, it's now illegal, we're now going to make you a felon because you're in possession of it, that's not right, that can't happen and we can't stand for that, we have to stand up against anyone that does something like that," Cargill said.
He said the case is not about gun control, but who has the constitutional right to change the law, stating the Justice Department does not have the right to issue the ban.
"The federal government cannot rewrite law. We're talking about triggers, we're talking about AR pistols, we're talking about everything the ATF wants to ban, we're saying you need to stop because you can't just change your mind one day and create a law, you can't do that, you can't ban something. Congress has to write a law that's how it becomes it," Cargill said.
The Biden Administration may appeal to the United States Supreme Court.