Sixth Circuit Court Rules Bump Stocks Are Not Machine Guns
Article first appeared on Ammoland.com
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Gun Owners of America (GOA), Gun Owners Foundation (GOF), the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), Matt Watkins, Tim Harmsen of the Military Arms Channel, and GOA’s Texas Director, Rachel Malone, defeated the bump stock ban in the Sixth Circuit Court of appeals.
According to the government, “the term ‘machinegun’ means 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. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.”
Gun Owners of America argued that a bump stock doesn’t meet the definition of a machine gun because each pull of the trigger only fires a single round. The court agreed that bump stocks are not machine guns, and the ATF has overstepped its boundaries when redefining bump stocks.
The Sixth Circuit Court said: “With or without a bump stock, a semiautomatic firearm is capable of firing only a single shot for each pull of the trigger and is unable to fire again until the trigger is released, and the hammer of the firearm is reset.”
Bump stocks are still banned.
The panel of judges from the Sixth Circuit Court sent the case back to the District Court to decide how widespread any injunction against the ban should be, but since different circuits have different rulings on the subjects any injunction will only be for Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.
The Sixth Circuit Court denied the ATF Chevron deference. Chevron deference defers to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute. The government argued that since the regulation wasn’t clear, the ATF could determine what is and isn’t a machine gun.
The Sixth Circuit Court ruled, “Chevron deference does not apply to agency interpretation of criminal statute thus the court does not need to decide whether agency can waive Chevron deference, therefore, the court must determine BEST MEANING of the statute”
The government could file for an en banc review of the case, or the government could appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. An en banc review means every Sixth Circuit judge will get a say in the case. This victory is the first victory that gun rights advocates had in defending bump stocks.
Other legal challenges have failed in other Circuit Courts and have been unable to get an injunction against the ban. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a challenge to the bump stock ban.
In a week where the White House and anti-gun politicians have attacked gun rights, this is has been a welcome surprise for gun owners from the courts.
Gun Owners of America celebrated the victory. GOA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt insinuated that the battle isn’t over, but this is the first step towards complete and total victory.
“Today’s court decision is great news, and told gun owners what they already knew,” said GOA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt. “We are glad the judges finally applied the statute accurately and struck down the ATF’s illegal overreach and infringement of gun owners’ rights.”
The Federal Government has not responded at the time of this writing. The Circuit Court split means it is more likely that the Supreme Court will take up the case.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.