What the Bump Stock Rule Change Portends for ATF-Fabricated Rules

By Larry Keane

Slide Fire SSAK-47 HYB Bump Fire Stock
Slide Fire SSAK-47 HYB Bump Fire Stock. IMG slide Fire

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- An appeals court ruling that struck the Trump-era rule banning bump stocks could have a much wider-reaching impact than just the plastic accessory.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overwhelmingly ruled that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) overstepped its authority when it published a Final Rule that classified bump stocks as “machineguns.” The Trump-era ban was in reaction to the heinous crimes by a depraved murderer in Las Vegas in 2017. The murderer used bump stocks in the commission of his crimes.

“A plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of “machinegun” set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act,” the majority opinion states.

That’s not the most important part of the decision. The teeth of the decision have more to do with process – something most Americans learned in their fifth-grade civics lessons.

Separation of Powers

Simply put, the federal government operates on a principle of Separation of Powers. Congress, the Legislative Branch, writes the laws. The White House, the Executive Branch, enforces the laws, and the courts, the Judicial Branch, decides if laws are Constitutional.

“The Government’s regulation violates these principles. As an initial matter, it purports to allow ATF – rather than Congress – to set forth the scope of criminal prohibitions. Indeed, the Government would outlaw bump stocks by administrative fiat even though the very same agency routinely interpreted the ban on machineguns as not applying to the type of bump stocks at issue here,” the opinion states. “Nor can we say that the statutory definition unambiguously supports the Government’s interpretation. As noted above, we conclude that it unambiguously does not. But even if we are wrong, the statute is at least ambiguous in this regard. And if the statute is ambiguous, Congress must cure that ambiguity, not the federal courts.”

Put simply, Congress set the definition of “machineguns” under the 1934 National Firearms Act and the 1968 Gun Control Act. Only Congress has the authority to modify that definition. Congress alone – the direct representatives of “We the People” – has the authority to draft laws and decide what is legal and illegal. The Executive Branch, in this case, the ATF as an agent of the Executive Branch, is charged with executing the law. The courts are charged with arbitrating what is law under the Constitution and ensuring that there is a separation of powers.

The Fifth Circuit found that in this case, the Executive Branch got it wrong. The ATF cannot redefine “machineguns” on their own. That authority rests with Congress. The ATF can only enforce what Congress agrees upon as legislation, and the President of the United States signs into law. An agency within the Executive Branch doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to draft rules that act with the force of law on their own. That’s executive fiat, and it’s unconstitutional.

The Effect

From here, it gets complicated. The ATF agreed for more than a decade that bump stocks were not “machineguns” but an accessory. That changed, albeit with intense public pressure and threats of legislation from Congress. This was the most recent challenge, but it wasn’t the only one to challenge the legality of the bump stock rule.

Previous challenges upheld the rule, including decisions by the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit, Tenth Circuit, and District of Columbia Circuit. The split among the circuit courts on this question may lead to the U.S. Supreme Court stepping in to decide the issue.

The Fifth Circuit’s decision, however, may have far more reaching implications to what is known as the “administrative state” – where government agencies, not Congress, make laws through regulations and rules.

This ruling could become a harbinger for two more rules finalized by the ATF. The ATF published the Frame & Receiver Final Rule that defined Privately Made Firearms (PMFs) that are sold in a complete kit or are “readily convertible” as firearms and regulated as such. That was a departure from previous definitions, just like the decision by the ATF to depart from previous definitions and regulate an accessory like the bump stock as a “machinegun.” In essence, the ATF expanded the definition of a firearm, which the Fifth Circuit said is beyond its authority.

The ATF is also expected to publish a Final Rule based on the Stabilizing Brace Proposed Rule. That could be forthcoming any day. The proposed rule included a four-part test the determine whether a pistol firearm equipped with a pistol brace is defined as a pistol or a short-barreled rifle. Short-barreled rifles (SBRs) are regulated under the 1934 National Firearms Act, like “machineguns,” and individuals possessing one must pass additional (and redundant) background checks, submit photos, and fingerprints, notify their chief law enforcement officer and pay a $200 tax to obtain a stamp from the ATF. Individuals owning them must also notify the ATF any time that a short-barrel rifle is moved from their residence, including submission of travel plans and when the SBR will be returned to the residence to which it is listed. Like with bump stocks, ATF had long ruled that stabilizing pistol braces when affixed to an AR-style pistol did not convert the pistol into a short-barreled rifle or shotgun. The parallels to the bump stock rule are self-evident.

Has ATF again impermissibly redefined firearm definitions and exceeded its authority?   The courts will certainly be asked to decide this important question.

The Fifth Circuit’s ruling is more than a question over a firearm accessory. It gets to the heart of the matter. Can the ATF – working on behalf of a president – rewrite law on their own? The court says it can’t. That is the responsibility, and the role, of Congress.


About The National Shooting Sports Foundation

NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org

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USMC0351Grunt

I find it appalling that these federal agencies are not heavily prosecuted for they’re heavy-handed actions against We the People?

I would also fully support that Slide Fire Solutions and any other company that produced bump stocks be reimbursed from the BATFE budget for the millions of dollars in losses in both product destroyed and lost sales as well as employee back wages AS WELL AS PUNITIVE DAMAGES!

Last edited 28 days ago by USMC0351Grunt
3l120

Congress is afraid to do the dirty work themselves, it might cost them votes. So let the BATF do it. One would think Congress would be upset with these agencies taking over their job, but not the democrats!

Ope

The ATF’s intended purpose was law enforcement, not law makers. That outlaw agency can’t do either. If that agency was created by memo it can be abolished by memo.

Steve

ATF was founded by The Congress…look up the origins. Shifting them from the Treasury Dept to the DOJ, then codifying their existence is the slick way they became such a slimey and unaccountable agency. EPA – same way.

Henry Bowman

The slime is from a discredited, unconstitutional procedure known as CHEVRON DEFERENCE, which was itself struck down by SCOTUS right around the time Bruen was decided.

With all that’s been done for liberty, what we need to do now is go for the jugular and get NFA, FFA, GCA, & FOPA repealed so we can finally abolish the BATF!!

Save The Dogs Abolish the ATF.png
Bubba
Arizona

Yup, the courts have said agencies don’t get to decide their own powers and cannot use chevron deference as they have been abusing it. Further, SCOTUS said chevron was NEVER allowed to be applied in such manner as to create or alter criminal law. That is a crime the FBATFE has repeatedly carried out with “regulations” that criminalize the possession or use of various firearms or parts or applications of said firearms, collection of parts, etc.

Arizona

Nope, FBATFE was created by a memo issued by the treasury department in point of fact. It can be abolished by memo as well.

swmft

tax collection, not law enforcement they were revenuers make sure you have a tax stamp on those cigs, and booze. became brut squad with the 21st amendment and never went back

Quatermain

The Vegas shooting has yielded zero projectiles fired from one of the bump stock rifles which has a chain of custody attached to it. Zero. False flag.

Bill

Still waiting for a detailed report of the shooting. Not seen or heard anything yet. CRICKETS chirping!

Orion

LVPD issued a fairly comprehensive report some time ago. plenty of photos of his hardware as they found it, casings on the floors, ect. it’s out there when you look.

Roland T. Gunner

Including the bump stock equipped rifles, staged in front of the windw on bipods?

Oldman

Mayne Orion does not understand how a bumpstock operates… Aam thinkin’

Oldman

Why don’t you provide the links, info, etc., instead of telling us to search it out, since you seem to have seen all of this?

Bubba

We were there.
It was not automatic weapons fire. 100%

Oldman

You were there being shot at? Well then you should have seen the black helicopters, right?

swmft

have a friend who was there and the recording on his camcorder…yea remember those .. does have parts that have overlapping shooting that could only be two full auto guns he has a broken memory due to brain damage so pictures and sound are his only proof…

swmft

he was hit by fire and trampled

Oldman

I remember about 2 months after the fact when an Uber or taxi driver had recorded on his phone sound that came from 2 directions. One of them sounded like it was directly above his head while he was parked under an overhanging roof. I know the difference between full auto and bumpstock fire. It was full auto Of course all those videos disappeared shortly after they were posted.

Laddyboy

You mean the BLACK HELICOPTERS which had “HEAVYS” IDENTIFICATION BOXES!

Oldman

I guess I don’t have much of a computer. The link took me to the disney website.

Deg4u

This took me to google searching for it. Then I didn’t find anything on this particular article.

Link

Best slam ever

Oldman

and you never will

Jayson

I’m still waiting for the declassified JFK Assassination Files Trump said he’d release…. crickets… why? The CIA radicalized Oswald and low and behold, he killed the President. Then, Trump bans bump stocks… Trump wasn’t that great.

Link

How about you go look.
They put the information out but are not required to hand deliver it to a nobody like you.

gregs

many of the crap “laws” we have to live under have been made by the administrative state and not congress where laws are supposed to be made. congress has abdicated their authority to this administrative state for a couple reasons; they have to campaign for the next race and, they don’t want their fingerprints on something people might oppose and cause them not to vote for them in the next election cycle. there should be very few laws in this country other than the Constitution and Bill of Rights. that these administrative agencies can dictate what free people “are allowed… Read more »

Rob J

“congress has abdicated their authority to this administrative state”

This is the crux of the issue as congress does not have the authority to abdicate its lawmaking authority. It is, by constitutional definition, the only branch capable of making law. Executive branch rules are for internal agency action and functionality within the law set forth by congress, they do not apply to the people as a “law” in and of themselves.

Steve

And those that are in Food Safety, transportation, commerce and Federal Corrections as examples – they do not contribute to the welfare and safety of our country? How about Law Enforcement at the borders and ports of entry? Be careful when you try to broad brush things.

Bill

If term limits are good for the presidency then they’re also good for the congress (for the good of the people, too)! Sure wish the inhabitants of congress would grow backbones and retake the power of law making from the bureaucrats! and keep it in congress where the Constitution states it rests!

Oldvet

And reduce their retirements to a percentage of their income just like yours and mine are when they term limit !. Where else do you get 100% if your wages after serving , 1 term (or 1 day?)

Last edited 28 days ago by Oldvet
Ope

ABOLISH ATF, RESCIND NFA!

Bill

ALL three-letter agencies need to be studied very carefully with a jaundiced eye. They are corrupting our government and our nation!

Ope

Bill, outlaw alphabet agencies are among the largest threats to our republic. They only seem to be focused on harassing , intimidating, and turning law-abiding citizens in to felons. There will be a end game to these tyrants reign of terror. They are the domestic terrorists!!!

Mac

The ATFE is out of control and has been for a very long time! Time to put them back in their place!

Jonesy

True. Out of government use.

Roland T. Gunner

We already have too many US Postal Service employees.

Cooter

Term limits and some serious investigations how members of Congress become billionaires in a short period of time when the salary they make does not come anywhere close to that amount of money

Arny

The same way they get elected. IT-ISAC. Wealth of INFO. Why do you think they need those IRS agents ?

IT-ISAC SCREENSHOT.png
Last edited 28 days ago by Arny
Oldman

How did Imam Obummer serve in Congress and as President get enough moolah to buy three multimillion dollar mansions, one in an island state with the most expensive real estate in our country and live a life of luxury? I think he only wrote one book. C’monn Man!

warfinge

So let’s say they strike down the rule. All the owners that destroyed their stocks are owed. Wonder if there is recourse for that that is economically viable for owners. A class action?

Bill

How about “just compensation” as required by the 5th Amendment to the Constitution? for the items seized or “voluntarily” turned-in under threat of felony indictment!

Jayson

I didn’t destroy my SureFire.. if you destroyed yours.. you are a sheeple.

Bigfootbob

I owned a bump stock on a .40 Thureon Defense Carbine, (crappiest premade AR I have ever owned), and it was a fun device. Blast through a magazine, if the gun liked the ammo, in a heartbeat. The accuracy of the rifle drops significantly when I was dumping magazines. If the Las Vegas shooter really did use one of these, he was only successful because he was firing down into what would be an equivalent fish barrel. I sold the rifle before the ban because the novelty wore off and the gun wasn’t reliable even without the stock. I’m glad… Read more »

Dutch

This ruling should also affect Forced Reset Triggers, by the exact same criteria.

GomeznSA

Hmm – I wonder what effect this ‘might’ have on the impending pistol brace ruling (if any).
Seems like some judges are getting miffed about out of control fed agencies making it up as they go. Or as in the headline “fabricated rules”. Maybe they view it as a threat to their judicial activism…………..

OldJarhead03

What does the Bump Stock Rule Change Portend for ATF-Fabricated Rules? Nothing different! Just more sleazy skullduggery by bureaucrats, politicians, and their tyrant-loving supporters.

Arny

Yes it will go back to Congress. But the damage is already done. And with the stealing of elections it bought them the time they need. Unless the elections are dealt with WE THE PEOPLE will lose in the end AGAIN. Listen to what she says real closely. About vouching for results. There’s no way to verify machines.
https://media.gab.com/system/media_attachments/files/121/570/015/playable/1a6a7048fff3135e.mp4

Last edited 28 days ago by Arny
swmft

waiting for the forced reset triggers to beat these asses too, want one for a dpms ar10

JDT

Is this the 4D chess move that people said the Orangeman had up his sleeve when he said the hell with due process on camera?