ERICH PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) today announced its long-expected regulations banning bump stocks.
I want to assure you that Gun Owners of America is now in the final stages of preparing a lawsuit against the ATF and the Department of Justice to seek an injunction protecting gun owners from these unconstitutional regulations.
We will be filing our lawsuit very, very soon.
As written, this case has important Second Amendment implications for gun owners.
After all, in the coming days, an estimated half a million bump stock owners will have the difficult decision of either destroying or surrendering their valuable property — or else risk felony prosecution.
GOA will argue that courts should be highly suspect when an agency changes its “interpretation” of a statute in order to impair the exercise of an enumerated constitutional right.
ATF Regulation threatens AR-15s and other semi-autos
The new ATF regulations would define bump stocks as “machineguns” — and, down the road, that new definition could implicate the right to own AR-15’s and many other semi-automatic firearms.
ATF’s new bump stock regulation clearly violates federal law, as bump stocks do not qualify as machineguns under the federal statute.
Moreover, bump stocks, which have been in circulation for many years, have repeatedly been ruled by ATF as lawful to own.
This ban was imposed through regulations because Congress has repeatedly refused to amend the law to ban them.
But the ATF has no authority to radically “re-interpret” a statute that is clear and unambiguous. To do so would allow agency regulations to overturn the clear provisions of statutory law.
Will AR-15s soon be deemed “machine guns”?
Statutory law is clear: Under 26 U.S.C. 5845(b), a “machinegun” is a weapon which shoots “automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single FUNCTION of a trigger.” (Emphasis added.)
A firearm equipped with a “bump stock” uses the recoil of the firearm, coupled with forward pressure exerted by the shooter, to force the trigger to function more quickly than it would normally. But the trigger is still required to function each time a round is discharged. Therefore, the gun cannot be said to function as a “machinegun.”
Another problem with the regulation is that it is overly broad and could later be relied on to ban semi-automatic firearms in the process of trying to ban “bump stocks.”
The ATF has previously said that “[Bump stocks] convert an otherwise semiautomatic firearm into a machinegun…”
But hold on a minute. If the AR-15 becomes a “machinegun” — or even if it is readily convertible into a “machinegun” — then AR-15’s could eventually become illegal as well.
Think the ATF wouldn’t use this regulation to summarily outlaw semi-automatics? Maybe not right now. But you can bet that the first anti-gun Democratic president to win the White House will order the ATF to do so.
These regulations would deny honest Americans the enjoyment of their Second Amendment-protected rights.
And so based on these objections, Gun Owners of America will shortly file suit to overturn the illegal, unconstitutional, politically motivated action by ATF in outlawing “bump stocks.”
In closing, I would ask two things:
1. For those who own or possess a bump stock and want to contact ATF to turn in your bump stock, please realize that the ATF will likely direct owners to sign ATF Forfeiture (Form ATF 3400.1) and/or Property Receipt (ATF 3400.23) forms.
You are not required to sign any form, but if you elect to do so, note the following.
The ATF Forfeiture form is a waiver of your rights and releases ATF from all liability. So read the form — and talk to your own attorney if you are thinking of signing it! Even if a court later decided against ATF, a person who signed this form would have no claim.
Unlike the ATF Forfeiture form, the Property Receipt form is simply an acknowledgement that ATF has received your bump stock and you no longer possess it. If you plan to turn it in, then get the ATF to sign this form as a receipt and you keep a copy.
2. For everyone who realizes the freedom implications of GOA’s case, please help support this case financially.
By going to his link here, your gift will be tax-deductible and will go directly to helping pay for this case.
The costs are staggering, as our attorneys have already put in a lot of time and effort — finding the best district to bring a case and getting the most authoritative witnesses.
Not to mention, they’ve already started coordinating with the plaintiffs and researching the most effective arguments to use.
So I want to thank you, in advance, for your help in this very important endeavor.
Erich Pratt is Executive Director of Gun Owners of America.
Used with the permission of Gun Owners of America.