ATF Bump Stock Rule Demonstrates the Dangers Inherent in Administrative Actions


Executive Orders Rule Regulation Red Tape
ATF Bump Stock Rule Demonstrates the Dangers Inherent in Administrative Actions

New York – -( Agency rules must be scrutinized carefully by the courts for they have a tendency to override congressional legislation

The American public has historically given little thought to the relationship between Congressional legislation and Administrative action. That must change. The new ATF Rule makes clear that the public must become aware of the intricacies of Governmental action lest the American people lose their sacred fundamental rights and liberties. The American people should have learned long ago of the danger posed to a free Republic through the insinuation of so-called “elites” into the political process. What ensues is oft, appropriately referred to, as “the tyranny of experts.”

How has this come about? It has come about due, paradoxically, to the manner in which our Federal Government operates. The only true “checks and balances” in our Nation are those that rest in the enumerated rights and liberties of the American people, and singularly in the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

If we lose that basic, inherent right, we have lost everything. That is not hyperbole. That is fact.

Congress makes law, yes. But, in faithfully executing Congressional statute, the Executive Branch must turn Congressional legislation into operational rules. That is the job of Executive agencies.

Congressional legislation provides the mandate through which agencies act. Agencies promulgate rules, allowing for implementation of law. However, that mandate isn’t open-ended. Congressional legislation establishes the parameters beyond which the Executive Branch must not venture. Yet, with disturbing regularity, we see the President, through the Executive agencies he presides over, overstepping his Constitutional authority.

In Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), the U.S. Supreme Court established the standard of Court review of agency interpretation of statute. The case is abstruse.

The majority of Americans probably never heard of it. Yet, among legal scholars, the U.S Supreme Court Chevron case is likely the most often cited case. Hundreds of academic articles have been written about it. Hundreds more will probably be written. And our case law is legion with references to it.

In Chevron, the high Court wrestled with the amount of discretion that federal Courts—the Judicial Branch of the Federal Government—should give to administrative agencies when those agencies interpret law to promulgate operational rules through which Congressional acts are effectuated. The question for the Courts turns on whether statutory language is ambiguous. If the language is ambiguous, Courts will defer to the agencies—the experts—to resolve the ambiguity, unless the Courts determine the agency’s interpretation is unreasonable. But, then, the Court is itself interpreting statute: hence the conundrum for the Courts.

But that is not the case here, with the ATF Bump Stock Rule, and that is because the definition of ‘machine gun,’ in Congressional Statute, is clear and unambiguous, certainly as unambiguous as our common language, English, can be. The ATF Rule is particularly exasperating as it blatantly ignores the Congressional Statutory dictate in order to promulgate a rule to cohere to a political goal—thereby making a mockery of our system of laws and the very concept of the “Rule of Law” that politicians love to cite but rarely, if ever, actually adhere to.

The ATF Rule, as promulgated, sets forth that bump stock modifications of semiautomatic rifles convert semiautomatic rifles into machine guns because only one pull of the trigger is required to initiate multiple firing of the weapon. But that statement is either true or it is false.

If true, then the semiautomatic firearm is, in fact, a machine gun. If not, then, the semiautomatic firearm remains a semiautomatic firearm because it is semiautomatic in operation. Rate of fire is irrelevant. Michael Curtis, supra, points out that, in the absence of an “accelerator spring,” a bump stock device—in its usual form (and keep in mind that the ATF Rule fails to consider and appreciate that bump stocks may have different configurations and operate in different ways)—requires one trigger pull for each successive shot. Performance is not a factor, as NRA clearly and correctly points out; the manner of operation is the only factor that comes into play.

Thus, unless Congress enacts legislation to redefine the expression, ‘machine gun,’—redefining it in a way that is contrary to industry use—the President of the United States, through the DOJ-ATF is not lawfully permitted to do redefine ‘machine gun’ on its own, which, it audaciously has done, even as the language in the Rule says otherwise. The DOJ-ATF action amounts to ad hoc rule-making; ad hoc rule-making, subject to the whims of political pressure, but presumptuously finalized as enforceable law. The DOJ-ATF Rule is nothing more than illegal Executive Branch edict. Its presence makes a mockery of law. It is a travesty. If allowed to stand, it amounts to the usurpation of our entire system of laws and justice, and legal jurisprudence.

The New ATF Rule Banning “Bump Stocks” Portends a Total Ban on Semiautomatic Weapons.

If allowed to stand, this ATF Rule dangerously undermines the Second Amendment because the Rule unlawfully conflates semiautomatic firearms and machine guns. If rapidity of fire becomes the de facto if tacit but clearly salient factor and new rule-made—as opposed to Congressional enacted—definition of ‘machine gun,’ which presently defines the expression,’ machine gun,’ in terms of manner of operation, not performance, then all semiautomatic firearms will inevitably and invariably be subsumed into the nomenclature of ‘machine gun.’ Indeed, the mainstream media—comprising stooges and political hacks posing as journalists who know nothing about firearms’ operations and who have no desire to gain such knowledge—merely echoes the sentiments of antigun zealots. The mainstream media routinely argues that no appreciable difference exists between machine guns and semiautomatic firearms, anyway. The running narrative of these organizations is directed to motivating the public to demand, of Congress, the annihilation of the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The purpose of these “news” organizations has nothing whatsoever to do with news reporting. The Press, today, delivers propaganda masked as news. There is no appreciable distinction anymore between what appears in the Op-Ed sections of these “news” publications or in what is purportedly presented as “real” news, neutrally presented.

We have seen how antigun zealots create, through the artifice of ‘assault weapon,’ a useful fiction through which semiautomatic firearms can be ostensibly lawfully banned. President Trump has, consciously or not, but certainly ill-advisedly and uncritically, created, through the DOJ-ATF Bump Stock Rule, a re-branding of semiautomatic firearm as machine gun based, essentially, on performance, albeit deliberately creating vagueness as to whether “bump stocks” necessitate one-trigger pull for every shot or multiple shots with one trigger pull in an attempt to “get around” the lack of any vagueness or ambiguity in the statutory definition of ‘machine gun.’

If Trump and the DOJ-ATF are allowed to get away with this subterfuge, then it is but a small step from a total ban on “bump stocks” to a total ban on all semiautomatic firearms, since rate of fire—utilized as the salient and subjective basis for elimination of firearms in the hands of civilians—will now provide the “ammunition” antigun zealots can and will latch onto in their unyielding zeal to continue to weaken the Second Amendment. And it is Trump, now, not Schumer or Pelosi, who has given them a vehicle they can and will use to destroy at once the citizen’s best means of self-defense and destroy, as well, the one truly capable defense in the citizen’s possession, to prevent or at least deter the onset of tyranny.

We urge all Americans, who support the Second Amendment, to sign the Petition, to overturn the ATF Rule that bans “bump stocks.”

Arbalest Quarrel

About The Arbalest Quarrel:

Arbalest Group created `The Arbalest Quarrel’ website for a special purpose. That purpose is to educate the American public about recent Federal and State firearms control legislation. No other website, to our knowledge, provides as deep an analysis or as thorough an analysis. Arbalest Group offers this information free.

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Wild Bill

@Roger Katz, You write, in pertinent part, “… the Executive Branch must turn Congressional legislation into operational rules.” and “… Agencies promulgate rules, allowing for implementation of law.” Why is that necessary? Why must agency have a chance to put their spin on an act of Congress. It was not necessary until FDR. It was not necessary in Washington’s time. It was not necessary in Lincoln’s time. I think that FDR came up with the ploy that “agencies make rules with the force and effect of law” so that he could get around Congress and the Constitution, and history knows… Read more »

Wild Bill

Come on Mr. Katz, I know that you are busy, but answer up.


Wild Bill, It’s worse than you think. Complexity in our Information Age drives growth of Agencies. Statutes merely serve as a template for Executive Agency action. Just consider the plethora of Government Agencies existing today in comparison to those existing in earlier eras in our Nation’s history. These Executive Agencies issue two kinds of rules, “legislative rules” and “interpretive rules”. Agency rules, such as the one under discussion, are governed by the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA). These rules have the force of law as they derive that force through Congressional grants of power to Agencies to make law through… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Roger Katz, First, thank you for your reply. I am fairly familiar with the APA. I had a class in law school. My position is that Congress is not authorized by the Constitution to give, cede, or lend to executive branch agencies Congresses exclusive power to legislate.
Statutes should not be templates twisted by bureaucrats. Statutes should be statutes, if Constitutional, binding the agencies, courts, the executive, and the people.
Get back to the Constitution. Dump the CFR. Defang the agencies. Put government back in its place, subordinate to the peoples’ Rights.


Don’t trust anyone in government further than you can throw them, including Trump.


As long as congress can sit by and let some alpha agency enact laws that are not popular they are all for it because they don’t have to take the heat for it. Nobody called them stupid.

Wild Bill

@Tcat, Not stupid, but we call them corrupt, self serving, and elitist every day … nearly every hour!

Barry Hirsh

File this under “Chevron Deference”. It is a dubious judicial doctrine wherein the courts default in accepting bureaucratic regulations as presumptively lawful, despite the particular issue before them not being addressed in existing legislation.

It is poisonous. But it is not a reason to beat up on DJT.


GOA is fighting for our rights while the NRA supports Bump Stock bans and gun control.

Lets make GOA a real Grass Roots organization


Stop already! Support GOA if you want, that is fine. The more the merrier. But NRA is the big dog and they get the microphone….


Maybe the NRA might want to try backing gun owners for a change. – NRA life member + GOA life member

Joseph P Martin

Administrative law is unconstitutional. Only Congress has the authority to make law. Federal agencies propose regulations, then publish them in the Federal Register, received public comments (which are ignored) and then the regulation becomes, or has the effect of, law, which is unconstitutional. Congress is out of the picture in this process, as is the President, who is the only one who has the authority to sign/authorize a new law. ALL Federal agencies do this and it is WRONG.

Barry Hirsh

The problem originates with the Congress, who shifts this lawmaking power to bureaucratic agencies in broad ambiguous strokes.

If you give a kid matches, don’t be surprised if he burns the house down.

Greg K

It’s called a “Title of Nobility” and thus Unconstitutional. Article 1 Secs. 9 and 10


You know I think these things are gimmicks / and ballistically hard on the receiving unit and really a good binary trigger which by the way you can’t have here in Florida anymore or great drop in cassette-type 3 pound high-performance trigger would greatly enhance speed and accuracy without the bump stockIn my opinion the second amendment shall not be infringed and I get it and I stand with that but I would’ve gladly gave up bump stocks if we could have the wall but apparently we gave up bump stocks Thanks to people like Mr. Cox of the NRA… Read more »


.intricacies says it all
.useless goober-ment d-suckers need a set of 1950’s encyclopedias to describe how to pick up dog-s**t
.”they can’t get rid of our worthless a**es if we make stuff that only we can decipher, and which we make in an opaque and unknown fashion”

Phil in TX

And that, my friends, is why we never ever should’ve sent any lawyer to do a Congressman’s or Senator’s job.

Phil in TX

Geary Mcdevitt

This is the new trend in government, blurring the lines of legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
We are heading for a monarchy.
The legislature is more than happy to skirt their responsibility to the executive branch, make them the bad guy, way easier to get re-elected. The activists in the judiciary are more than happy to agree to push their agenda, no matter the law.

Barry Hirsh

It is not a new trend. It has been going along under the radar for decades, with people becoming aware of it only recently.

Ansel Hazen

Always lots of talk but where’s the action behind the outrage? Even the French have Yellow Vests. When insolent children continue their bad behavior responsible parents deliver a correction that can’t be misunderstood.


The Revelator

@Ansel Hazen

Stating support for rioters in france who are the equivalent of Antifa here is not exactly showing responsible thinking.
The difference is we do not practice French style Revolution, like Antifa. We pattern ourselves after the American Revolutionists. There is a difference.


the revelator says France’s revolt of being over taxed by the elites for their Nazi world order (that is hitler’s dream world order) is the same as antifidiots anarchy on banning free speech for everyone but them and they are for world order and socialism SORRY revelator THE DOTS CAN NOT BE CONNECTED ONLY SOME ONE USING THEIR HEAD FOR A HAT RACK ONLY COULD CONNECT THOSE DOTS YOU A MEMBER OF ANTIFIDIOTS?!! Seems to most Americans THAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS WE FOUGHT FOR OUR COUNTRY WAS TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!!

Tristan Phillips

So by this logic, if I was able to utilize just my finger, (not saying it is or isn’t possible, but hypothetically…) And move it in a manner that causes the rifle to approach a rate of fire consistent with bumpstocks….. That my method of operation could thus render my semi auto a “machine gun”? If I could somehow, using nothing to aid the process, shoot a semi auto ar with my index finger and approach 540 rpm…..would my excessive skill have rendered my obviously semi auto fire arm full auto? In a world where reality is changed by feelings… Read more »

Will Flatt

Again, how hard is it for the average person to understand “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”? Not very. In a “shall not be infringed” environment, the very existence of an agency whose very existance is an infringement on the uninfringeable should inform the average person. It should serve to illustrate why the bureaucratic (4th branch) of government is a violation of the Constitution insofar as their day-to-day activity is a usurpation of the legislative. An executive agency can legitimately promulgate rules FOR ITS EMPLOYEES on HOW to carry out its mission as dictated by legislation, but when Congress gives carte blanche… Read more »


Well said, I totally agree.

Greg K

“The American people should have learned long ago of the danger posed to a free Republic through the insinuation of so-called “elites” into the political process.” Actually, this is called a “Title of Nobility.” According to the Constitution it is verboten, however after 1942 it has become mainstay, and a diversion to congressional accountability. Article 1, Sec. 9 “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States:” Not to anyone period! Our framers even went on to declare it Unconstitutional at the State level in Sec. 10. Everyone should stop and consider all of the Unconstitutional laws created… Read more »