Amicus Brief Supports Gun Owners of America’s Bump Stock Case

The goal here is for ATF to be ordered to surrender this collector’s item to me. (Photo by David Codrea)

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “David Codrea, Scott Heuman and Owen Monroe lawfully owned bumpstocks.1 They relied on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (‘ATF’) repeated express approval of so-called bumpstock-type devices,” a friend of the court brief filed Wednesday in the United States Supreme Court by attorneys Alan Alexander Beck and Stephen D. Stamboulieh explains. “Despite the ten-plus years of approval, the ATF reimagined and redefined terms in an unambiguous criminal statute to outlaw bumpstocks under penalty of prison, fines, and loss of Second Amendment rights.”

“As such, they have an interest in the outcome of this case because a positive ruling in the instant matter will assist them in their efforts to have their lawful property returned to them in the future and will help guide other courts in reaching the correct conclusion which is that bumpstocks are not machineguns,” the brief elaborates.

The brief is in support of GOA’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari, filed March 3, which listed among the reasons SCOTUS should find in favor of plaintiffs:

I. THE LOWER COURTS’ FINDING OF STATUTORY AMBIGUITY LED TO NUMEROUS LEGAL CONCLUSIONS IN CONFLICT WITH THIS COURT’S DECISIONS AND THE DECISIONS OF OTHER CIRCUITS.

II. THIS COURT’S REVIEW IS NECESSARY TO RESOLVE THE LOWER COURTS’ DISARRAY ABOUT WHETHER CHEVRON APPLIES IN THE CRIMINAL CONTEXT.

III. DESPITE THIS COURT’S SEEMINGLY CLEAR SIGNALS, A CIRCUIT SPLIT EXISTS AS TO WHETHER CHEVRON CAN BE WAIVED.

Because most of us aren’t lawyers, here’s an in-a-nutshell overview of the main argument we make in our brief, borrowed from The Federalist Society:

Under existing civil precedent, where a statute is ambiguous, a court will defer to an agency’s interpretation of a statute it is tasked with administering, so long as that interpretation is “reasonable.” Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984).

But in criminal law, the rule of lenity requires the court to resolve any statutory ambiguity in favor of a criminal defendant. See Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1, 11 n.8 (2004). This rule has been ingrained in our criminal law for decades. United States v. Wiltberger, 18 U.S. 76, 93 (1820) (“In criminal cases, a strict construction is always to be preferred; and if there be doubt, that is of itself conclusive.”).

“The government’s position is reminiscent of George Orwell’s classic novel 1984,” our brief continues, highlighting the ludicrousness of ATF’s position.   “Basically, the government announces to the court what it is to believe and then demands the court march in lock-step along with it.

“Under the Final Rule, bumpstocks still do not fit the definition and are not machineguns,” the brief explains. “It is the equivalent of allowing an agency to declare a Honda Accord to be a Lamborghini simply because it passed a rule declaring it as such. Or maybe it would declare that the Accord, with an internal combustion engine, is actually an electric vehicle because it contains a battery.”

Forcing a court-ordered return of the property has been my goal. My device fits no rifle that I own but is nonetheless a collector’s item signed by its inventor, Bill Akins. Our complaint, which included a “takings clause” claim, wended its way from a standalone action against an acting attorney general to being consolidated with the Guedes v. BATFE complaint. The Supreme Court punted on hearing us, and both cases are currently pending before their circuit courts. So, a positive GOA ruling would definitely revitalize our efforts.

A copy of our brief is embedded below:


About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

David Codrea

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StLPro2A

“…..they relied on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (‘ATF’) repeated express approval of so-called bumpstock-type devices,” Silly Boys. The Alphabet Boys will know “it” when they see….or re-see, or re-imagine it. You can trust them.
In same vein, regarding government thugs legally possessing full-auto, suppressed, shorty barreled items……“Tyranny is that which is legal for governments, but which is illegal for citizens.” so saith Tommy…..Tommy Jefferson.
Well wishes for your court success, but not holding my breath….blue is not an attractive hue in old guys.

musicman44mag

Yes, and after this case is won, which it should be, they can get to work making sure all the people who had FRT triggers stolen, and fuel traps stolen from them get them returned and the government pay a rental fee for the time that they had them in their possession. I don’t mind my taxes going for that kind of gun uncontrol.

Tionico

Interesting point, that “lenity” principle. I’d not seen it applied in such cases before. I KNEW the Chevron charade was not applicable to these cases. But “lenity” should trump everything else. The very principle states that when there is disagreement, it forces the matter toward innocence.

Alan in NH
Hazcat

‘Just register your legal gun with the ATF and pay $200 to ask for permission to keep it.’ NO THANKS!

musicman44mag

You said it much nicer than I would. My saying would start with something similar to FJB but in ATF.

ashort

Yeah I have to admit, for Shoot-on to write that article in my opinion was insulting especially to MSR pistol owners. That purchased their MSR legally with a brace.

Alan in NH

I agree, and this is the only site I’ve seen that makes this claim. The aft might just be flinging ideas to see what sticks. How are they going to regulate up to 7 million items that they made legal many years ago and are still being sold to this day? I really can’t see that happening unless they really go nuclear.

TexDad

What a silly article. As Codrea quoted on this page, “if there be doubt, that is of itself conclusive.”

If the ATF’s opinion isn’t self evident upon a reading of the law, any prosecution of a large platform pistol owner must fail. The ATF will not be able to successfully prosecute any large platform pistol owners, just as they have not been able to prosecute bump stock owners.

Scrambling to comply with ATF’s non-law based on a supposedly instant you-go-to-jail implementation of last year’s wish-list version is stupid and cowardly.

Last edited 1 month ago by TexDad