Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent refusal to delay the federal ban on bump stocks does not impact the cases being brought by the New Civil Liberties Alliance. NCLA will continue to challenge the Bump Stock Type Devices Final Rule on behalf of two clients who seek to overturn the ban and to halt its enforcement.
On March 22nd, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a temporary stay which only applies to NCLA’s client, W. Clark Aposhian, a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah. The stay prevents the enforcement of the bump stock ban against Mr. Aposhian while the Court considers his Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal.
NCLA also filed a separate lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of Michael Cargill, a resident of Austin, Texas who turned in his bump stock to the local ATF office while his case is pending before the court.
NCLA believes only Congress, not administrative agencies, can write criminal laws such as ATF’s rule banning bump stocks. The courts and the American public need to focus on whether ATF acted lawfully in the way it banned the devices. NCLA’s lawsuits raise key issues about the proper role of administrative agencies, doubt whether agency regulations may contradict a statute passed by Congress and ask whether an agency can retroactively punish lawful purchasers of a device who may not have heard about the ban before it turned them into felons.
Some erroneous media reports have stated that bump stocks convert semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons. That assertion is simply false. If bump stocks did that, they would have already been illegal, and ATF would not have needed to reinterpret an 85-year-old statute in order to ban them. Such falsehoods detract from the real issue in the case, which is whether ATF can rewrite a statute.
“The wisdom of banning bump stocks is a policy question not implicated in these lawsuits. NCLA is solely focused on the bigger problem of an Administrative State run amok. If ATF and the Department of Justice can write their own criminal laws, as they did here, then all Americans will have reason to fear for their civil liberties, regardless of their personal feelings about gun control.” —Mark Chenoweth, NCLA Executive Director and General Counsel
NCLA is a nonprofit civil rights organization founded by prominent legal scholar Philip Hamburger to protect constitutional freedoms from violations by the administrative state. NCLA’s public-interest litigation and other pro bono advocacy strive to tame the unchecked power of state and federal agencies and to foster a new civil liberties movement that will help restore Americans’ fundamental rights. For more information visit us online: NCLAlegal.org.