Gun Owners of America Gets Its Day In Court On Bump Stocks

GOA gets its day in court on bump stocks
GOA gets its day in court on bump stocks

USA – -( As I write this letter to you, I am on a plane, returning from western Michigan. The “lake effect” has dropped more snow than I’m used to seeing during this time of year. So for me, I’m looking forward to returning home to dry land.

I’ve left the federal district court in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Gun Owners of America delivered its oral arguments on Wednesday in opposition to the ATF’s bump stock ban.

As you know, GOA is suing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) over its illegal ban on bump stocks. This ban is so poorly written that it threatens the legality of AR-15s and other constitutionally-protected firearms.GOA’s attorney Rob Olson did a fantastic job representing gun owners in court. And he repeatedly hammered the ATF for exceeding its authority and for capriciously reversing itself in banning firearms-related items that were once legal to own.

Olson also made it clear that hundreds of thousands of innocent bump stock owners are now in danger of becoming felons after March 26. So given this looming deadline, GOA is requesting an injunction from the judge, which would stop ATF from enforcing the ban when the turn-in period ends.

Judge Appears Wary of ATF Overreach

During oral arguments, Olson had to vacillate between fine points of legal doctrine to countering the government’s talking points that could have come from Moms Demand Action.

For example, much of the discussion with the judge centered around a doctrine known as “Chevron deference.”

If you’re not familiar with this guideline, you might wonder what this has to do with bump stocks. But, in fact, it has quite a bit to do with the subject at hand. “Chevron deference” is a doctrine that essentially gives a federal agency tremendous latitude in interpreting and applying a federal statute.

Olson consistently made the point that the ATF did NOT deserve deference … that the agency was misapplying the federal statute regarding bump stocks … and, more importantly, that the ATF was effectively changing the statutory definition of what a machine gun is.

This argument seemed to resonate with the judge, who appeared unwilling to grant deference to the ATF.

Why a Bump Stock is NOT a Machine Gun

Another much-discussed topic centered around the very nature of a bump stock.

The judge asked GOA’s counsel if a bump stock allows an uninterrupted automatic cycle of fire — as a machine gun would. Olson said NO. He explained that a bump stock allows for repeated SEMI-automatic fire in a rapid manner, where each function of the trigger produces one bullet out the end of the barrel — albeit occurring in rapid, repeated succession.

The government took the contrary view, claiming that a bump stock starts in motion a continuous chain of successive fire.

More to the point, Olson noted that while an untrained shooter could fire an automatic weapon with one hand — by simply pulling the trigger back — no person could repeatedly bump fire a semi-automatic weapon with just one hand.

Even the ATF has had to concede in its written regulation that bump firing a weapon requires the shooter to use both hands.

And this gets to the core distinction between a bump stock and an automatic weapon. The U.S. code defines a machine gun as a firearm that can shoot “automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.”

One can fire a machine gun with only one hand because the internal mechanism in the weapon will produce automatic fire with a “single function” of the trigger. But to bump fire a semi-auto, the shooter must use two hands, and in most cases, spend time learning how to actually perfect his individual technique for each different bump stock firearm. Anyone who has ever bump fired a semi-auto knows there is a learning curve in determining the appropriate amount of force with which to push forward on the firearm using the non-trigger hand.

So in other words, it’s the shooter who creates the bump fire effect. Because “bump firing,” first and foremost, is a technique, and not a product that is sold over-the-counter.

But that’s not the case with a machine gun. A person who has never touched a gun could easily fire an automatic weapon because it’s the internal mechanism that actually allows repeated rounds to be fired “automatically.”

The back-and-forth between Olson and the judge on this point was crucial and could play a critical role in the judge’s decision-making process.

No Evidence that Bump Stocks are a Threat to Safety

Slide Fire SSAR-15 Mod Bump Fire Stock
No Evidence that Bump Stocks are a Threat to Safety

One of the government’s lawyers brought up the Las Vegas shooting from 2017 as a reason to ban bump stocks. He claimed that the inherent dangerousness of bump stocks necessitated a ban for the sake of “public safety.”

Of course, if this logic were to prevail, the government could justify banning all weapons — handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc. — given that all these weapons are inherently “dangerous.”

GOA’s attorney countered by telling the judge there is no actual proof of one recorded instance where bump stocks have been used in a crime. Olson even cited the lack of FBI and ATF statements, studies or reports to demonstrate that there is no conclusive evidence that a bump stock was actually used by the Las Vegas shooter. This was something of a “mic drop” moment, because when given the chance to respond, the government’s lawyer could not — in fact, he refused to — counter Olson’s statement on this point.

Thus, the oral arguments in the Western district federal court on March 6 established unrebutted testimony that, to date, there is no proof of any documented case where a bump stock was used in a crime.

Even if it is one day determined conclusively that the Las Vegas shooting was the first case where a bump stock was used in a crime — it would still remain the ONLY case.

And this ONE case would hardly then represent an imminent “danger to public safety.” Especially when one considers that “bump firing” a weapon can be achieved without bump stocks, and that these items have been used by hundreds of thousands of gun owners in a perfectly safe manner.

Bump Stock Regs Open Door to Banning AR-15s

Finally, one of the most crucial moments centered around a discussion involving the potential threat to AR-15s.

GOA has repeatedly warned that the ATF’s ban on bump stocks can be easily used by a future anti-gun administration to ban most, if not all, semi-automatic rifles. Olson repeated this warning to the judge and noted that the threat to AR-15s would inextricably follow from these regulations.

While the government lawyer hotly contested this assertion, Olson noted that there are other common, household items that can be used to bump fire an AR-15 — such as, rubber bands, belt loops, etc.

So what happens if a homeowner has several AR-15s and a box of rubber bands? Olson noted that the ATF has already successfully prosecuted people who owned unassembled parts that could later be used to (theoretically) convert a firearm into a machine gun.

In other words, the ATF has already shown its true colors on this point. So if these regulations are eventually allowed to stand, gun owners need to beware.

Don’t be surprised if the ATF — say, under a President Kamala Harris administration — deems that any homeowner who possesses both AR-15s and rubber bands has committed a felony because he or she has “constructively intent” to build a machine gun.

You can be sure that, if this were to occur, the ATF will be called upon to provide “the best understanding of the law” at that particular time. And all of its prior promises and representations — that the rule does not apply to semi-autos — will be worthless.

Judge Questions ATF for their Change in Position

ATF officials are well-known for changing their positions “on a dime.” And they are guilty of doing this in regard to their position on bump stocks. In court, the government claimed their prior opinions approving possession of bump stocks in the past were correct based on what they knew, but now they are “not the best understanding” of the law.

And this led to another “mic drop” moment, when the judge called them out on their past behavior.

The judge dryly wondered, out loud, why he should believe the ATF’s position today.

The ATF claims that judges like him must adopt the agency’s current interpretation on bump stocks. But ten years ago, the judge noted, the ATF was arguing the complete opposite, claiming that bump stocks were totally legal under federal law. It was a great point. And we can only hope the judge will take this point to heart — that it’s ATF’s arbitrary interpretations that have changed over the years, and not federal law.

Judges typically will not immediately issue their rulings, and this one was no exception. We can probably expect a decision within a week.

What I’ve shared with you here is only the tip of the iceberg from our day in court. But it certainly represents the highlights of what took place.

I want to thank you for helping keep Gun Owners of America on the frontlines.

Your support of GOA is what allows us to continue the fight for freedom.

In Liberty,

Erich Pratt
Executive Director

About Gun Owners of America (GOA) :

Gun Owners of America (GOA) iGun Owners Of Americas a non-profit lobbying organization formed in 1975 to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. GOA sees firearms ownership as a freedom issue. `The only no comprise gun lobby in Washington’ – Ron Paul Visit: to Join.

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Trump just recently said that he “hates” suppressors and will get them banned. The NRA was directly responsible for the bump stock ban, and did nothing to stop it. And Trump is supporting an anti-gunner to lead the ATF. The NRA has done not one thing to counter any of this. NOTHING. So, I removed my sticker from my car, stopped giving them money (if they are hurting, LaPierre makes 4 million a year, maybe he can chip in), and support the GOA fully. There is no room for compromise. I find it odd that all these politicians take an… Read more »

Tracy Ingram

I bailed on he NRA over this. This is a total repeat of the NRA helping the assault weapon ban. Now the NRA sends me literature that they re under attack from NY to prevent the NRA from using banks. Well guess what NRA, if you don’t support my rights FULLY, dont come begging for more money. I was just about to go lifetime NRA when they showed their true colors… again.

Mike Haigler

I wont support the nra anymore! I will support GOA !

James morris

I will not support the NRA anymore all they want is money they do not stand up for our gun rights I wish when they send there letters wanting more money it would include a phone number so I could tell them after 2019 I will not renew my member ship. GOA keep up the good work!!! In what way can I support you

TSgt B

I wish about 60% of you folks would either rent/borrow/hire a PROOFREADER or have the closest 8 year old do your writing. Some of these comments are so horribly constructed/written/spelled that they make my hair ache just trying to read them. I am a Benefactor Member of the NRA, and a lifer at GOA, the Second Amendment Foundation, and also belong to the CCRKBA, amongst others. I will be attending the NRA Annual Meetings, and will be taking scalps. It is time that we all hold the NRA leadership’s feet to the fire for the ambiguous positions they take. Join… Read more »


U mIte wunt too learns how two use commas vs forward slash.

Melida Zundel

click on this link to see a lawyer in action

Noella Alsaqri

life sentence for weed


I am an NRA life member since 1984 as well. On this one, the BATFE cannot have it both ways. If it was ok yesterday, it cannot be illegal today. BATFE are not our friends, and have done some bad dirt to gun owners in the 80’s and 90’s and are the cause of the GOPA being passed to make them destroy the background check paperwork as prescribed by law. I can understand if the NRA was willing to give up bumpstocks, even if they didn’t want to, just to make nice and they knew it would not be popular… Read more »

Dan Dan

I will still support the NRA because they still are an important voice.
But GOA and the Firearms Policy Coalition have both shown themselves to be more principled in my opinion.
I’d still really like to hear a no B.S. explanation from NRA. And I’d really like to hear them apologize and start fighting anti gun overreach.

Dan Dan

I’d sure like to hear an explanation from an NRA official on why they have thrown bump stock owners under the bus. You’ve lost bundles of money from disappointed potential donors with this bone-headed move. I suspect you were trying to cut bait on this one, didn’t want to fight a losing battle. But you ended up looking weak and spineless. My recent donations have gone to GOA precisely because they are willing to fight on principle. The NRA also showed that they care more about supporting a Republican (Trump) than they care about actual gun rights. That makes you… Read more »


I recently joined GOA. I am an NRA life member who is extremely upset they have not done enough to back machine gun owners, or bump stock owners. GOA IS doing something! Thank you, GOA !!


Great job in court. Now let’s see if the judge has common sense.


“ALL” crimes originate from the criminal!

willy d

Andy how many people remember about O North, true statement, he may back the 2nd Amendment, but doesn’t deserve the position that he is in! Just as LaPierre and C Cox they have lost their direction as leaders and now working much like the Politicians in DC with trying to be PC with follow ups with Lip Service instead of action, I myself will still support the NRA but changes are in order at the top!!!!!!!!

Michael J

Another example of bureaucrats acting under the control by anti 2nd Amendment politicians who can’t by due process challenge the Constitution. These bureaucracies exist so politicians would have another path to impose their will and thereby keeping themselves out of the limelight.

Jim Wiseman

How can the BATFE claim that the LV murders involved a bump stock without making evidence available? Is the defense just supposed to take their word for it?


Food for thought…. How many mass shootings have more behind them than we see as just some crazy person? Were these people sought out on their social media and fed the right incentives and encouragement from anti gun pushers? Why do so many “facts” not add up from Las Vegas, for instance, how did spent brass get on top of the bloody chest of a dead shooter??? What about videos showing possible shots from elsewhere and the sounds. Did he really break the windows on both sides of the corner room or was there second shooter. I think our gun… Read more »


the Las Vegas shooting is first to mind in this issue because it is given as the “trigger excuse” for banning the detachable devices they want to demonise. And one was found still attached to one rifle, and is seen in the first images after the site was supposedl breached. But, as Mr. Pratt so well stated, there is not one shred of evidence to indicate ANY of the rounds recovered from the stage area were actually FIRED from THAT weapon. There were more rifles with bump stocks seen in the carefully staged images”documenting” the contents of the room as… Read more »

Leo Smith

Nevada Shooter was a Patsy for the Anti American, Gun Control Advocates and Democrats hell bent on subverting g our Constitution for their benefit.

Charles Moore

There has to be an orchestrated drive to promote and encourage these events. Someone is either paying people to commit these acts (the ones that actually occur, not the staged/fake ones) or are brainwashing them into doing them. I’ve been paying attention to these things since I was first able to vote in the ’70s and there IS a pattern; they seem to increase as an election year approaches and is in process – especially if the Democrats are out of “power.”

Dan in Detroit

I’ve been steadfastly trying to avoid all the conspiracy theories about the LV massacre, but the fact that the govt lawyer refuses to admit that the central reason for their entire attempt to ban bump stocks ever even happened…
I’m left with only one question:
Should I make my hat with name brand tin foil (because it offers thicker protection with less layers) or many layers of dollar store foil (because it’s thinner and is much easier to shape)?
Seriously, this whole situation stinks.


Use Reynolds tin foil. Its better quality.

Seriously, when the government uses Las Vegas as the reason, and then refuses to use their reason in court, it has me wondering….

Big Jim

The laws of this country are not written in the method in which the ATF employed. Laws must pass through the house then to the senate and on to the president. Pretty simple to understand. Changing the words in existing law won’t fly.


When will the NRA haters start their own I Hate the NRA forum so that like minded individuals can get together and hate the NRA?


They got such forum since first stone – it calls Democratic Party, infamous hate group !


I hope folks are waiting for the verdict before writing any checks. GOA tends to talk a good game then fail on the goal line over and over & can leave bad precedent in their wake.

I TRUST the NRA’s Lawyers not to screw the pooch..GOA? Not so much.

Charlie Foxtrot

The NRA isn’t fighting the bump stock ban! The NRA leadership created the bump stock ban in the first place! The NRA rarely has any lawsuits that even go to court and get a verdict. I most cases, the NRA files lawsuits and never follows up on them. In many cases, the NRA takes credit for lawsuits it never fought, where it just filed an amicus brief. In a few cases, the NRA runs a secondary lawsuit that trails a primary lawsuit fought by a different organization on the same issue. Once the primary lawsuit is decided upon, the NRA’s… Read more »


I think the NRA Carl already screwed the pooch by immediately supporting the bump stock ban – a better approach would have been to reserve such an announcement pending full investigation of all relevant factors.

Furthermore, a DC ruling is hardly considered precedent. Seeking an injunction pending full adjudication on the merits, as the DC conducted upon GOAs motion, is smart legal maneuvering.

Wild Bull

They never supported a ban you moron. Anyone who says otherwise is an oxygen thief who cannot read.

Charlie Foxtrot

LOL. Then what did the NRA leadership support then?

Charles Moore

See my reply above for your answer.

Henry Bowman

NRA never supported banning bump stocks?! Are you really so blind that you believe that statement? Wayne LaPierre himself was on national TV after Vegas talking about how NRA doesn’t want the line between semi-auto and full-auto to be “fuzzed,” and how bump stocks “fuzz that line.” His exact words… During the public comment period, GOA and other gun rights organizations were actively encouraging their members to submit comments opposing the ban. NRA was completely silent… And don’t forget Messrs. LaPierre and Cox’s “joint statement” posted on the NRA website in the wake of Vegas. It’s still up if you… Read more »

Charles Moore

Hey, guys, take a breath! I have always thought that the bumpstock ban was a shell game to fool the anti-gun goons from the beginning. The way it was written/worded is as if it was designed to fail for its’ stupidity and lack of logic/grounds. I think we are seeing that come out now. I think that it just might be another example of President Trump throwing the ball over the cliff and finding amusement as he watches the liberal lapdogs (en masse) chase it.

Charlie Foxtrot

Well, who is really the fool here. No, this is not some sort of chess vs. checkers, aka. 4-D beer pong, played by President Trump and the NRA. In the Firearms Policy Coalition case against the bump stock ban, the federal judge agreed with the government’s arguments and denied the preliminary injunction against the ban. The Firearms Policy Coalition filed for an emergency appeal before the bump stock ban goes into effect. If the GOA’s case goes the same way, the bump stock ban will go into effect in less than 3 weeks. All bump stock owners will become felons… Read more »


I will continue to support the NRA, however with that said, monies budgeted for NRA, a portion now goes to support GOA.

I agree with Ansel, expanding, all democratic candidates should withdrawal and let HRC go for it fourth time, after all the only reason she lost as they all claim, was Russian collusion and Trump would not dare ever team up with Putin with all this media exposure and dems running the House conducting endless investigations – 2020 is a shoe in for HRC – do the fair thing dems, do the right thing, drop out for HRC!


As I understand it, Trump started all of this with an executive order, and the NRA helped him write it. It seems to me that by issuing this order Trump has admitted to us that he is and has been lying to us about being pro-gun, and that he is in fact anti-gun. My initial impression of him when he “threw his hat in the ring” was that he is a “flim-flam man.” I know that he has and appears to be doing great and good things for us, but my initial opinion hasn’t changed.

Charlie Foxtrot

No, President Trump didn’t start this by writing an EO. The NRA started this by convincing the President Trump that it is OK to ban bump stocks. That started the regulation change by the DOJ on President Trump’s wishes without an EO. Here is the regulation change timeline:: It started on 12/26/2017.

Bullett bob

Right. And the GOA has pusued more legal suits against the government and put out more warnings on senators and reps nationwide than the NRA in my 30 years of membership. What I get now is the 2 to 3 mailings a week asking for money. The NRA went through this stage a few years back, and there was a large member revolt because of the cost of these mailings multiple of thousands. At this time and under our current situation re; suits and bans being pushed all over our country, we lost the house, and now we have liberal… Read more »


Ok…you got me…as an NRA Life.Member since 1984, where the hell are they…Partying in their friend’s multi-million dollar home in Florida??? If not for GOA would we not be lost? My money on the way to GOA.


I was getting ready to contribute to the NRA, so thank you Eric, for helping me realize it needs to go to the GOA where the hard battles are being faught for gun owners. Thank you!


Vegas was a belt fed for sure, go watch videos of an m-240 or m-60, exactly the same, then check out ar bumpstock vids, way faster rate of fire, and the way the atf and fbi handled the whole thing screams coverup


set up, staging, execution, and coverup.. start to finish this thing smacks of collusion, treason, etc.

What will it take to expose the operatives behind these sorts of sich theatre?

And WHY has not Fast and Furious been carefully investigated? Same dirtbags behind that one, my nickel says.

Charles Moore

If you are on the right track, they had an awful lot of disintegrated links to police up before taking photos. I can’t see these fakers wanting to go to that much work. M-16s, maybe, but I can’t see the employment of anything belt-fed here.

John Dunlap

This mess is depressing and frightening. We actually could end up with a President Harris, Sanders, or Warren soon, and it’s Trump’s doing. The bump stock ban was the result of his orders to ATF. Add this to his spectacular reversal on reducing immigration rates, and it becomes evident that he may have done more damage to his re-election chances than the Democrats ever could. If ATF (hopefully) loses this case, many 2A supporters will still remember it was his idea, and Democrats will make much of the fact that a segment of his own base had to sue “his”… Read more »


I’m not sure I’d just arbitrarily throw the President under the bus. We’ve always been given just the lesser of two evils, when it comes to voting choices. Until President Trump, that is. Name ALL tha past presidents that accomplished any of their platform promises. DJT is still the best choice for getting things done. His “slight of hand” tactics still keep the critics wondering what direction the volley will come from. Some things I’m not 100% on board with….but those are few. I think the big thing to watch now is the judges that have been added. The battles… Read more »

Walter Goddard

I’ll agree with @Steve on this one @ JD, Don’t overlook the obvious, but don’t be too quick to pass judgement either! Trump gave the soccer moms a bone, but the bone can bite back the other way before it’s all done with. There are laws that prohibit being prosecuted for the same crime twice. The 5th Amendment/Double Jeopardy… possibly counter sue under a frivolous law suit as well. Lets’ hope for the best. This has a chance to go to the SCOTUS! I am “pretty sure” Trump sought counsel before he relented on this issue… He had to show… Read more »

Jason H Schwab

And where, exactly, is the NRA in all of this? For an organization that prides themselves on defending gum rights, they have a shit track record.

Mark Are

Where were they? Compromising. Throwing bump stock owners under the bus.


They’re having raffles, wine parties, conferences, and busy trying to collect next years’ dues. Don’t forget. The NRA is now led by a convicted international gun runner. Go GOA!!

Wild Bull

You’re an idiot and an antigun shill


How many monies you want, GOA?

HMLA-167 Warrior

Again… Keep up the good fight GOA. And, thank you.

Ansel Hazen

Great article, but honestly Eric, you need to go smack yourself upside the head for even SUGGESTING a universe where that woman might become president.


@Ansel Hazen,
Sorry ladies, but every month you all get (emotional) and could make some bad decisions.
Just putting 2 and 2 together here. I just made a joke out of the group (moms demand action)! Bone heads.


@ Ansel Hazen
I noticed that sentence, also and thought no we can’t be bad enough to bring this devil down on us. She is about as qualified as Barry was. I have to say thank you GOA for fighting the good fight. I don’t think they will be selling wine and trinkets any time in the near future.


In the Nevada case where the FBI could not find motive, where they muddled all the facts, we’re to take it as gospel that bump stocks were the culprit, and not the fall guy?

Mike McKeen

Just want to point out that the lawyer who argued that there is no proof that a bump stock-equipped weapon was ever used in a crime, is 100% wrong.
The LVMPD’s report on the 1-October-2017 shooting indicates quite clearly that Stephen Paddock fired several hundred rounds from multiple, different rifles that were fitted with bumpstocks.
The inventory the police collected runs from page 96 to 106 and the forensics about which guns were fired is on 106-107. I’d say it’s pretty conclusive that Paddock did indeed use bump stocks in his commission of 58 murders.