A gun rights lobbyist group argued before the Sixth Circuit on Wednesday [December 11] that rapid-fire gun attachments known as bump stocks should not be included in the government's definition of machine gun.
The ATF's rule allowed owners of bump stocks to dispose of them by March 26, 2019, after which possession of one would become a felony offense.
U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney denied Gun Owners of America's motion for a preliminary injunction shortly before the disposal deadline. The George W. Bush appointee found the group was unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claims for violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, or APA.
The ATF's interpretation of the word "automatically" included the action of a shooter putting forward pressure on a bump stock to increase the rate of fire, and Maloney found this a reasonable and permissible interpretation under the APA.
Gun Owners of America argued the ATF's rule is arbitrary because rubber bands and belt loops can be used to accomplish the same increase in rate of fire, but Maloney was not convinced.
Attorney Rob Olson argued on behalf of Gun Owners of America at Wednesday's hearing, and told the Sixth Circuit panel that bump stocks do not convert a semiautomatic weapon into a machine gun.
U.S. Circuit Judge Eric Murphy, an appointee of President Donald Trump, asked Olson if his client is seeking a nationwide injunction to prevent enforcement of the rule.
The attorney answered that he is, and that such relief is allowed under the APA.
Attorney Brad Hinshelwood from the Department of Justice argued on behalf of the government, saying bump stocks fall under the definition of machine gun because the devices "set up a continuous cycle" of fire once the shooter pulls the trigger.
Murphy accused the ATF of making mistakes in its interpretation of the Act in the past 10 years, and asked why every AR-15 would not be illegal given that they could be modified to act as fully automatic weapons with bump stocks or other devices.
"The bump stock is the machine gun in terms of the statute," Hinshelwood responded, pointing out that the government has never thought to include all semiautomatic weapons as machine guns just because they could be modified.
Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Alice Batchelder, an appointee of George H.W. Bush, and U.S. Circuit Judge Helene White, an appointee of George W. Bush, also sat on the panel.
No timetable has been set for the court's decision.
GOA v Barr - CA6 bump stock ban
Posted 21 December 2019 - 10:37 AM
- Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, 1960.
Posted 21 December 2019 - 02:43 PM
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