Fifth Circuit Brief: Semi-Automatic Firearms, ‘Bump Stocks’ Are Not Machine Guns

Gun News

NEW ORLEANS (August 3, 2022) – Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced the filing of an important appellate brief, joined by FPC Action Foundation, in the case of Cargill v. Garland, which challenges the ATF’s unconstitutional ban on “bump stock” devices. The brief can be viewed at FPCLegal.org.

In December 2021, a 3-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban, saying that “the Bump Stock Rule’s interpretation of the NFA’s definition of ‘machinegun’ is the best interpretation of the statute.” Last June, however, the Court ordered that the panel opinion be vacated and that the full Court would review the appeal (known as a rehearing en banc).

“Because virtually all semiautomatic weapons can be bump fired, and because that technique can be aided by myriad common household products or clothing items, ATF’s definition is necessarily overbroad and would eliminate statutory distinctions between less-regulated semiautomatic rifles and handguns, and more-regulated machineguns,” argued FPC and FPCAF in their brief to the en banc Fifth Circuit. “Bump firing, whether aided by a bump stock, a rubber band, or merely a well-controlled finger, is not shooting automatically and the ease with which any given weapon can be bump fired does not turn semiautomatic firearms into heavily regulated machineguns.”

“Federal agencies, including the ATF, have no authority to create new law or change the meaning of statutes,” said FPC Senior Attorney for Constitutional Litigation, Cody J. Wisniewski. “Nor can the ATF, which calls itself an expert on firearms, intentionally misinterpret straight-forward terms like ‘trigger’ in order to achieve its preferred policy outcomes and ban things the agency and its bosses don’t like. A ‘bump stock’ is not a ‘machinegun’ even if the president says it is.”

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“The district court’s ruling was based on a misunderstanding of the way that firearms and ‘bump stocks’ function,” said FPC Action Foundation Director of Constitutional Studies, Joseph Greenlee. “In our brief, we clarify the misconceptions that led to the erroneous lower court decision and explain why the correct understanding compels a ruling in favor of Mr. Cargill.”

Individuals who would like to Join the FPC Grassroots Army and support important pro-rights lawsuits and programs can sign up at JoinFPC.org. Individuals and organizations wanting to support charitable efforts in support of the restoration of Second Amendment and other natural rights can also make a tax-deductible donation to the FPC Action Foundation. For more on FPC’s lawsuits and other pro-Second Amendment initiatives, visit FPCLegal.org and follow FPC on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

Firearms Policy Coalition (firearmspolicy.org), a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, exists to create a world of maximal human liberty, defend constitutionally protected rights, advance individual liberty, and restore freedom. FPC’s efforts are focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and adjacent issues including freedom of speech, due process, unlawful searches and seizures, separation of powers, asset forfeitures, privacy, encryption, and limited government. The FPC team are next-generation advocates working to achieve the Organization’s strategic objectives through litigation, research, scholarly publications, amicus briefing, legislative and regulatory action, grassroots activism, education, outreach, and other programs. FPC Law (FPCLaw.org) is the nation’s first and largest public interest legal team focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the leader in the Second Amendment litigation and research space.

FPC Action Foundation (FPCActionFoundation.org), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, exists to create a world of maximal human liberty through charitable legal action, public policy, education, and research programs.

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