Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- The repercussions of the BATFE rule change classifying bump stocks as fully automatic firearms continues. RW Arms is a company located in Ft. Worth Texas. The company distributes firearms parts and accessories in the United States. RW Arms had a large inventory of over 73,000 “bump stocks”, when the BATFE changed the regulations and classified bump stocks as automatic firearms. RW Arms joined with retailer The Modern Sportsman to sue the federal government for an uncompensated taking of their formerly legal product under the Fifth Amendment of the the U.S. Constitution. From rwarms.com:
Fort Worth, Texas (April 8, 2019)–Fort Worth based retailer RW Arms, Ltd has filed a federal lawsuit seeking monetary damages for the fair market value of the 73,436 bump stocks it destroyed in compliance with the Bump Stock Ban that went into effect on Tuesday, March 26th. The ban, which was enacted by the Trump administration, reclassifies bump stock devices as machine guns, and therefore subject to regulation as part of the Gun Control Act of 1968. The rule requires that previously lawful owners destroy or surrender the device without compensation or be subject to a penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines for each violation.
RW Arms joins retailer The Modern Sportsman in suing the federal government for this taking without just compensation. The lawsuit alleges that the regulation, which forces lawful owners to destroy or surrender the device, is a physical taking of their property without just compensation in violation of the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Their case captioned The Modern Sportsman et al., v. United States, was filed on March 29th in the Court of Federal Claims, Washington D.C..
“Without legislation, the government was able to overturn the previous ruling on bump stocks effectively turning law abiding gun owners into felons overnight if they were not turned in or destroyed,” said Michael Stewart of RW Arms. “This is an injustice, overreach, and infringement on our 2nd amendment and 5th amendment rights. We appreciate the work of Gun Owners of America and Firearms Policy Coalition for continuing to fight for our rights. We at RW Arms have been working behind the scenes preparing for this fight and have now filed lawsuit against the government to protect our rights and the rights of our customers from being infringed any further.”
RW Arms is a wholesaler, distributor and retailer of firearms accessories and components, including high capacity magazines, performance triggers, scopes and parts for semi-automatic rifles. We appreciate the support that we have received and thank you for your business. As a small 100% veteran owned and operated company, we value your loyalty and cherish the 2nd amendment. RW Arms will continue to bring leading and innovating products to the marketplace.
The lawsuit has a better than usual chance of success, because a regulation was changed, instead of legislation being passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump.
Another lawsuit, Codrea v. Barr, is in the works as well. That lawsuit challenges the Chevron Doctrine. Both of President Trump's Supreme Court appointees have expressed skepticism about the Chevron Doctrine, which gives enormous power to the unelected bureaucracy.
GOA has also filed a lawsuit challenging the bump stock ban on the basis of BATFE overreach by effectively changing the law, with a regulation, rather than keeping the existing interpretation, which has been the same for decades.
RW Arms clearly has standing. It suffered a clear financial loss of several million dollars.
The courts have been mixed on applying the Takings Clause. The Takings Clause has a greater chance to apply in this case, because the BATFE did not offer to “grandfather” existing bump stocks, as it has historically done when it ruled that formerly legal items were now prohibited.
Machine gun owners were allowed to register their previously legally owned machine guns in 1934. When the 1968 Gun Control Act was signed into law, an amnesty period was granted for people to register machine guns and other NFA items that had not been previously registered. Owners of drop-in auto sears were allowed to register their items as machine guns when the BATFE ruled that they were machine guns, at least before 1986. The NRA called for an amnesty coincident with the bump stock ban.
An amnesty is no longer a choice for RW Arms, because their property has been destroyed.
We do not know how the courts may rule on these lawsuits.
Much may depend on whether or not President Trump appoints another Supreme Court justice before the cases are settled at the Circuit Court level.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.