Appeals court strikes down ATF's bump stock ban

The 5th Circuit ruling has created a circuit split, meaning the case may head to the Supreme Court.

Published: January 6, 2023 9:44pm

Updated: January 6, 2023 10:02pm

The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives lacked the authority to finalize a rule banning the ownership of bump stocks.

The court determined en banc that bump stocks do not classify as "machineguns" as defined by federal law and therefore the ATF could not issue a ban on such products. A bump stock is a type of handle that may be affixed to a semi-automatic firearm. A user holds down the trigger and the gun's own recoil to effect a repetitive pulling of the trigger.

"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 judges determined.

Gun shop owner and firearms trainer Michael Cargill brought the suit with the support of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a non-profit civil rights group.

The ruling marks a significant win for Second Amendment advocates. The NCLA celebrated the decision, with President Mark Chenoweth saying "NCLA has been seeking to set aside this unlawfully promulgated regulation from the get-go. We are pleased that a circuit court has finally—and decisively—recognized that Congress must be the one to pass any bump stock ban."

The 5th Circuit ruling has created a circuit split, wherein separate appeals courts make different decisions in comparable cases. The DC, Sixth, and Tenth appeals courts have ruled differently. The Supreme Court typically steps in to address disparate rulings at the appellate level.

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