Legal Challenges to Bump Stock Ban Begin Rolling In

As reported Tuesday and discussed on the GunLink Forums, the Department of Justice this week issued a new regulation reversing the BATFE’s longstanding position on bump stock devices. This regulation modifies the meaning of certain words and changes the codified definition of machine gun such that it now includes language inclusive of bump stocks.

This reclassification leads to a situation faced by many hundreds of thousands of owners of such devices whereby they must now either destroy or surrender to the BATFE their lawfully purchased property or become overnight felons in possession of illegal, unregistered machine guns.

No doubt worse than the fact that they must now hand over their property – purchased in good faith with assurance from the BATFE that the device was, in fact, not a machine gun – without compensation, is the manner in which the regulation came about.

To be certain, the regulation is causing an uproar among factions of the firearms community with talk about violations of everything from Article I of the US Constitution’s prohibition on ex post facto laws to various and sundry elements of the Bill of Rights to include the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th Amendments.

The Cato Institute published a piece rightly stating that “this regulation is not an attempt to clarify a vague law, but to seize political expediency to expand the power of the executive,” continuing that they may reserve their “right to intervene in the coming litigation.”

It should come as no surprise that the first legal challenges to the Bump Stock Ban were put into motion just a few short hours after the announcement that it had been inked by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker given that the opening shots in this legal battle were fired by some of the more prolific opposition to the change since its early stages.   

First into the fight is Guedes, et al. v. BATFE, et al.  Representing plaintiffs Damien Guedes, Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, and Madison Society Foundation are familiar pro-2A attorneys Josh Prince and NRA Board-hopeful and GunLink Forum member, Adam Kraut.

Details of this first case, including the complaint, exhibits, and Motion for Preliminary Injunction, may be found at bumpstockcase.com. Firearms Policy Coalition quoted Prince:

The ATF has misled the public about bump-stock devices. Worse, they are actively attempting to make felons out of people who relied on their legal opinions to lawfully acquire and possess devices the government unilaterally, unconstitutionally, and improperly decided to reclassify as ‘machineguns’. We are optimistic that the court will act swiftly to protect the rights and property of Americans who own these devices, and once the matter has been fully briefed and considered by the court, that the regulation will be struck down permanently.

– Joshua Prince

Hot on the heels of the Guedes case is a promise from Gun Owners of America (GOA) that they will likewise be filing a lawsuit challenging the new regulation.  While little detail is currently available, especially when compared to the Firearms Industry Consulting Group case, GOA is giving assurances that they have already prepared a lawsuit against the BATFE and DOJ to seek an injunction that will be filed “as soon as the ATF regulations are officially published,” which could happen as soon as today or tomorrow.

A recent blog post from Attorney Stephen Stamboulieh may be a hint of what is to come from his offices. Stephen, who we met a few years ago at NRAAM, is somewhat well known for being a bit of a pit bull when it comes to challenging questionable BATFE rulings. In his post he opines on whether or not Whitaker is even a proper person to be enacting new regulations as the ostensible Acting Attorney General. Stamboulieh offers the same “stay tuned” sign-off to his post that Cato Institute did above.

One notable heavy hitter missing from the early legal volleys fired at the new regulation is the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF). Alan Gottlieb and his team often take a more measured approach to things and, frankly, we would be shocked if we don’t see them toss their hat into the ring in the coming days or weeks.

How successful do you think these legal challenges will be?  Stay tuned to the GunLink Blog for updates and continue the discussion below in the comments and on the GunLink Forums as the situation evolves.

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