Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a temporary stay of the bump stock ban announced late last year by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The stay only applies to NCLA’s client, W. Clark Aposhian, a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah who has challenged the ban in federal court. 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.
The New Civil Liberties Alliance filed the preliminary injunction motion on Mr. Aposhian’s behalf on March 19th. The case is not about whether bump stocks should be banned. Instead, it is about whether ATF acted lawfully in the way it banned them. NCLA asked the Court of Appeals to halt enforcement of the ban while it considers NCLA’s appeal of a district court order that denied a preliminary injunction last week. ATF’s ban goes into effect nationwide on March 26th.
NCLA contends in this lawsuit that only Congress, not administrative agencies, can write criminal laws such as ATF’s rule banning bump stocks. The lawsuit raises key issues about the proper role of administrative agencies, whether agency regulations may contradict a statute passed by Congress, and whether an agency can retroactively punish lawful purchasers of a device who may not hear about the ban before it turns them into felons.
The Court’s decision to stay the bump stock rule is an important recognition of the high stakes in this case. While the order is limited, the Court recognizes that Mr. Aposhian has raised a substantial basis to question the rule’s validity. The Court sees that it would be unfair to allow the rule to take effect without giving him an opportunity to fully present the issue to the Court.
“Today the Court of Appeals told the ATF that it could not rush through the bump stock ban without meaningful judicial review. The Court understands the stakes and is refusing to let an innocent owner be declared a felon, as scheduled.” —Caleb Kruckenberg, Litigation Counsel
Last Friday Judge Jill Parrish of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah denied preliminary injunctive relief to Mr. Aposhian in his suit against the ATF challenging the Final Rule.
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.