The Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have violated this basic principle by issuing the “Bump-Stock-Type Devices” Final Rule. Contrary to statutory language enacted by Congress (and signed by the President), and circumventing congressional efforts to revise that language, this rule is scheduled to make hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding Americans into felons in defiance of constitutional restraints on executive power. Whatever the merits of such a policy, the Final Rule violates the fundamental constitutional order and thus cannot be tolerated.
Plaintiff Michael Cargill, like hundreds of thousands of his fellow Americans, legally purchased a bump-stock device with the ATF’s express approval. And even though the law written by Congress has not changed, the Department of Justice has ordered Mr. Cargill to destroy or surrender his device or face criminal prosecution. To make matters worse, since the Final Rule has come under attack in various lawsuits filed across the country, the Defendants have taken the position that the rule is not a “final” rule at all, but a mere interpretation of the statutes that make machineguns illegal, and that bump stock devices have been illegal “machineguns” since 1934, when the National Firearms Act was first enacted. Consequently, Mr. Cargill, and many thousands of other law-abiding Americans, have now been declared to have been violating a criminal statute for the entire time they have owned bump stocks. The Constitution does not permit such lawmaking by executive fiat, and the enforcement of this rule must be permanently enjoined.