Last Friday, NRA-ILA filed an amicus curiae (or friend of the court) brief in support of a petition to have the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rehear a challenge to ATF’s 2018 rule that classified bump stocks as machineguns. A three judge panel of the Fifth Circuit upheld ATF’s rule in December, and this brief urges the Fifth Circuit to hear this challenge en banc, meaning before all of the judges of the circuit. This is the third time that NRA-ILA has filed an amicus curiae brief challenging this rule in recent months. NRA-ILA remains dedicated to ensuring that law-abiding Americans will not be made criminals overnight for possessing a previously legal firearm or accessory based upon the whims of a nameless, faceless bureaucracy.
ATF had previously determined that bump stocks were not machine guns on ten separate occasions from 2008 to 2017. But the ATF abruptly changed course in 2018 when it announced that it would review its regulatory definition of machinegun. NRA-ILA filed comments opposing ATF’s reinterpretation at that time. In spite of all of their previous determinations, ATF reversed its position and classified bump stocks as machine guns. That change spawned lawsuits across the country.
When Congress defined “machinegun” it “focused solely on the trigger’s mechanics, not the process by which the trigger is pulled,” the brief argues. But in reinterpreting “machinegun,” ATF “went off target” and examined factors that were not found in the statute.
But this case, along with the other two cases where NRA-ILA has filed amicus briefs, is about much more than bump stocks. It’s about how much leeway ATF has to interpret provisions of the Gun Control Act that impose criminal liabilities. For 200 years, the Supreme Court has consistently held that “the power to create crimes lies exclusively with Congress,” the brief argues. Thus, when criminal liability is on the line, “ATF’s position is ‘not relevant at all.’” Multiple appellate courts have now heard cases on this rule, and one case is currently pending before the Supreme Court.
The case is captioned as Cargill v. Garland.
Please stay tuned to www.nraila.org for future updates on NRA-ILA’s ongoing efforts to defend your constitutional rights.