Bump Stock Ban
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling that affirmed the ATF’s classification of bump stocks as the functional equivalent of machine guns under the National Firearms Act.

In their ruling in the case Cargill v. Garland . . .

Cargill argues that bump stocks unambiguously are not “machinegun[s]” under the above statutory definition because semiautomatic firearms equipped with bump stocks (1) do not shoot “more than one shot . . . by a single function of the trigger” and (2) do not shoot “automatically.”

The three-judge panel, however, has ruled that . . .

A bump stock is “a part designed and intended” to enable a person armed with a semiautomatic rifle to “shoot[] . . . automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b). Accordingly, we agree with the district court that the Bump Stock Rule properly classifies bump stocks as “machinegun[s]” for purposes of federal law. Id.; see also 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(23). 11 

And in a footnote . . .

Though the district court concluded that “the traditional tools of statutory interpretation yield unambiguous meanings” for the disputed terms, we hold only that the statute does not contain the kind of grievous ambiguity that causes the rule of lenity to apply. 

Though we conclude that the Bump Stock Rule offers the best interpretation of the NFA’s definition of “machinegun,” Congress may wish to further clarify whether various novel devices qualify as machine guns for purposes of federal law.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. You can read the panel’s full opinion here.

[h/t Rob Romano and FPC]

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58 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if they understand that their ruling doesn’t affect the ability to bump-fire one bit.

    • They don’t care because they don’t have to. Similar to the Miller decision that decided that short barreled shotguns weren’t suitable for military use even though they were in active use at the time.

      • A bump stock is “a part designed and intended” to enable a person armed with a semiautomatic rifle to “shoot[] . . . automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

        Yeah but it doesn’t. It sounds like these judges don’t understand how a bump stick works. There is more to it than “function” of the trigger. You have to do a combination of things to get it to work. You have to push on the front hand guard while pulling on the back with the other arm and keeping your finger straight. That is simply NOT a “single function of the trigger.”

        I guess in order to defeat these horrible tyrant leftists, we have to use their tactics against them. We just need to redefine the meaning of words. Redefine what a “trigger” is. Start redesigning guns that have multiple triggers or no triggers at all.

      • As long as Gun Control is not defined by its diabolical history courts will look at Gun Control as sugar and spice and everything nice. The only way to stop that from happening is to define Gun Control for what history clearly confirms Gun Control to be. Instead of whinning about bump stocks and helping usher in Jim Crow Gun Control joe it should have been standing for those who lived in unspeakable fear and had nothing to defend themselves throughout history because of Gun Control.
        Those who complained the loudest over bump stocks are the most silent when it comes to speaking against the racism and genocide inherent with Gun Control…there’s the problem.

  2. Another decision by judges who don’t shoot and don’t understand the mechanics of firearms and the bump stock.

    • They understand “bump stocks = bad” and the ATF said so, so it must be true.

      They don’t want bump stocks to suddenly become legal again, that would be inconvenient. No politician wants that. This one is tricky also because the NRA and Trump pushed this, so where one might hope for some Biden gun control to get quashed by “Trump” judges, this one is Trump gun control, so you need conservative judges who stand against both parties and even the NRA to overturn this, so it’s getting to be quite the long shot.

      This doesn’t bode well if the ATF adds the Biden rules for pistol braces and 80% receivers.

      • …Jim Crow Gun Control joe biden owns most of the 1994 Clintoon Crime Bill assault weapon “ban.” And had POTUS GW Bush not allowed the bill to sunset you would have something to point fingers and complain about. What POTUS DJT did was take a laundry list of Gun Control off the table of Congress by EO for bump stocks. In other words be somewhat thankful it stopped with bump stocks and did not include binary triggers, etc.
        So I ask you…What would you had done? Sat there with your thumb up your behind and let congress run the show or do what POTUS DJT had to do. I think we know the answer, instead of playing pretend with bump stocks save up and buy the full auto real deal.

        • “SAVE UP FOR THE REAL THING???? ”

          Deborah has zero interest in having sex with you, demented troll.

          She wants men inside her, not a sniveling little boy like yourself… 😉

  3. I wonder why anyone continues to care what our ” betters” think? Do what you can, keep your mouth shut;and continue to build gather your tools and refine your skills against the day when we can let them know just how little regard we have for their ” opinions” or ;for that matter their continued well being.

    • “I wonder why anyone continues to care what our ” betters” think?”

      because they control the money supply, your credit, and your licenses.

      • no
        ….. no they don’t lol…. you and them THINK you control me….. but you DON’T….RETAR D

        • I do control you, and don’t you ever forget it.

          Dance. I order you to humiliate your self again… 🙂

  4. Darn. I guess I’ll have to go turn mine in to the police now.

    I sure hope no one figures out how to 3d print new ones. Or even worse, a drop in autosear.

  5. The government drew to an inside straight here with the panel assignment . . . the panel is Dennis (Clinton appointee), Costa and Higgison (Obama appointees). The odds of getting an all dem-appointed panel on CTA5 are pretty long, but it does happen. (And no, there’s no monkey business with panel assignments (I used to work for a CTA5 judge and I know how the process works) — the government just got very lucky.)

    Hopefully, appellants will seek rehearing en banc, as I think there would be a majority to reverse.

    • “Hopefully, appellants will seek rehearing en banc,…”

      That takes *time*. Oh, well, we have a clear circuit split, so I guess we wait and see if the SCotUS is interested in taking a swing at it…

      • I tend to think SCOTUS would not be interested. Although people think it does go to the Second Amendment it does not go to the core of the Second Amendment of ‘keep and bear arms’ because the arms are still had without a bump stock and the core of the second is what SCOTUS is interested in.

        • I agree this isn’t a 2A case (and trying it as one would likely get a result we would not like).

          It’s actually a Chevron deference case (i.e., how much deference must courts give the bureaucrats’ interpretation of the law). Right now, SCOTUS has been telegraphing that they may, finally, be ready to re-examine at the judge-made concept of Chevron deference.

          Recall that prior to Barrett joining the Court, the Court took up a related concept of (Auer deference). Opinion was essentially 4-1-4 — four justices would have overruled Auer entirely, four wanted to uphold it, and Judas Roberts voting not to formally overrule Auer, but reinterpreting it in such a fashion that effectively killed it.

          Had Barrett been on the Court at the time, there would have been five votes to formally overrule Auer. Court watchers are wondering whether this same block (Thomas, Alito, Goresuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett) is ready to send Chevron deference to the ash heap of US jurisprudence.

        • LKB,

          I do not understand how laws which render firearms less effective in battle are not subject to the Second Amendment.

          Note that bump stocks enable a faster rate of fire which is extremely important in battle. Along the same lines, a lighter and more maneuverable firearm (e.g. a short-barreled rifle) is extremely important in battle. Also along the same lines, less recoil and hearing loss (e.g. suppressors) are extremely important in battle. Since the Second Amendment is about preserving the right of the people to keep and bear arms and thus the ability to form militias for common defense, laws which reduce the effectiveness of a militia should be forbidden. In that context, the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Hughes Amendment, and any laws/rules which interfere with our ability to acquire and possess firearms which are the most effective for a militia–should all be subject to review before the U.S. Supreme Court and struck down under the Second Amendment.

          What am I missing?

        • You’re missing the part of the Constitution that says any weapon or related accessory developed after the founding of our country shall only be used by Highly Trained Professionals. I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.

        • Uncommon Sense:

          It boils down to picking your legal battles to get you to the best available result, and avoiding making bad precedent in the process.

          For example, go back to the time of the Heller case. Say you want to establish the precedent that 2A is an individual right, rather than a collective right (which, pre-Heller, was an open questions in the minds of many judges). Are you more likely going to get that holding from SCOTUS through a test case that challenges (a) DC’s complete ban on private handgun ownership, or (b) the NFA or the Hughes Amendment? The answer is obvious: you go for the “easier” case (remember, we were only able to get Heller with a 5-4 decision, with Scalia having to water it down in order to keep Kennedy on board). Had the test case instead been a “long bomb” play that challenged the HFA, we likely would have gotten a decision that said the 2A was a collective right: no way Anthony Kennedy would have overturned the NFA or the Hughes Amendment.

          Same exercise here. A 2A analysis of bump stock regulation plays well to the converted, but until we have some better precedent on the books (which after NYSR&PA, we may have), making that argument runs a serious risk of creating bad precedent that moves us backwards, not forward.

          The better arguments in the bump stock case are rule of leniency (i.e., when interpreting a criminal statute, you err in favor of the defendant regarding any ambiguities), straightforward statutory interpretation (“machine gun” is defined in the statute), and challenging Chevron deference (which there now may be the votes to overrule).

          It’s easy to simply take an absolutist 2A position and think it’s obvious that courts should follow it. The reality is that you are not going to get courts to do that — for better or worse, it is a strategic process that plays out over time, and ignoring those realities is counterproductive to the result you are seeking.

        • LKB,

          Thank you for your thoughtful response.

          I see and understand what you are saying. And I will defer to you and others in the legal field whether the considerations and strategies which you mentioned are accurate and likely to move us forward.

    • How is it that a court grants a federal agency power to create new law? And…what is this interpretation of legislative intent? Judges speculating on unwritten intent is literally license to steal. Using “intent”, one can easily claim that every piece of a firearm is banned simply because it can be made to shoot faster without actually being full automatic.

      And, yes, “intent” can include your finger, a belt loop, a string.

      • Short answer: the judge-made doctrine known as Chevron deference.

        Recent rumblings from SCOTUS indicate there may now be the votes to eliminate or severely curtail Chevron. And if that happens, it would be an earthquake that would shake the foundations of our current administrative state . . . just about all the various EPA, OSHA, DOE, DOEd, etc. regs out there would be subject to plenary review and attack in the Courts, and the bureaucrats’ days of making law without meaningful judicial oversight would come to a close.

        • “Short answer: the judge-made doctrine known as Chevron deference.”

          Yes, indeed.

          The legislature establishes the courts, and sets jurisdiction. The garbage decisions by courts, garbage doctrines, have the tacit, unstated, approval of the entire legislature. Politically it allows legislators to avoid responsibility for not doing their jobs, judicially it allows courts to be super-legislatures.

          As usual, corruption in government comes from the voters, who also want to avoid their responsibility to discipline legislators.

    • What’s been said, cannot be unsaid. That footnote is a great big green light for Congress and the ATF to pursue even broader and more onerous infringements.

  6. When they make the definition of words whatever they please, our “rights” mean nothing.
    It’s going to get worse before it gets better, or it gets really bad.

  7. Here we go another one for the Supremes (cue music)
    Maybe if we get enough of these cases someone will figure out where the boundaries are NOT!

  8. Going forward, the best course of action for state governments is to declare the federal govt illegitimate, refuse to recognize its authority, and refuse to cooperate with it in any way. The past few decades the federal leviathan has amply demonstrated that it is immoral, irrational, marked by corruption, has little regard for the limits placed on its power by the Constitution, and has no regard for the rights or even lives of the people of the states.

    This course is unlikely to happen in the near future, but it is encouraging to see recent revival of nullification, and states resisting federal public health measures. Ron Desantis in Florida is the model in this regard for gradual movement toward states refusing to go along with the federal government.

  9. This ruling could be easily used to declare that random items in a house, garage, shed can be declared “constructive possession” of silencers. After all, the legislature “intended” that silencers be tightly controlled by government.

  10. The black letter of the law has is meaningless, at least as it applies to us proles. Now, judges use their own morality and their own ideas to decide cases. Just like a couple of lawyers in black robes conjured up a “right” to abortion because of mythical penumbras and emanations given off by the Constitution, judges make their rulings based on political expediency and what they deem a “desired” result.

    The judicial system is corrupt as hell.

  11. All state and local cops should be afraid of going to jail or face heavy fines. If they help to enforce federal gun control laws. I’m glad the cops in Missouri are afraid. video 13 min long.

    “New Missouri state law effectively ends local enforcement of federal gun laws”

  12. Your friendly lawyer advises to return your FRTs and get a refund before someone from the ABCs comes a knocking on your door.

  13. It’s plain and simple: These “judges” LIED. There is simply no other explanation that works, or that is needed.

    Gaslighters, each and every one of them.

  14. Brings to mind the ATF whole racket with the registration and tax stamp for machine guns, suppressors, etc. being unconstitutional…

  15. While I’m not *that* into reading a three-judge panel’s opinion as the Holy Writ, perhaps it’s time for some people to realize that government, regardless of branch, is not your friend.

    It’s a tool, and like any tool, in the hands of maniacs it is exceptionally dangerous. Hence why smaller government with less power is better. And yes, this applies to just about everything until you shove .gov back in the box laid out in the Constitution.

    For example, were this ruling to stand what the court just upheld is the rewriting of black letter law by an executive agency opinion letter (regulatory change).

    If you can’t see how that kind of power, if fully granted and vested in the executive, will for absolute certain be abused across the board then you’re significantly more visually challenged than Stevie Wonder.

    But then the truth that most people can’t wrap their head around is that you haven’t really had any “rule of law” in this country for quite some time. Nor have you really had a justice system. Just ask Kyle Rittenhouse about how “just” the system he was forced into was. Lies, outright manufactured evidence, willful non-compliance with the established rules… all coming from the government in an effort to produce a trial outcome that they desired.

    Now, imagine a Federal prosecutor engaging in such behavior with the full weight of the DOJ and other Federal agencies arrayed against you. What, you think Rachael Rollins wouldn’t act like that? LOL!

    Oh well, at least they’re redefining inflation out of existence so they can crow about great CPI prints. I’m sure that will help all the people in fixed incomes select the best flavor of Fancy Feast for their Thanksgiving dinner. You know, the way they “fixed” the port problems in Cali?

    Centralization doesn’t work for running a large country. It never has. Decentralization is always superior, which is what that BoR is all about. But you’re not going to get back to that with the current crop of nitwits in either party. Those septua and octogenarians will bend you over with no lube every single time the same way they have for their entire careers.

    Then again, you won’t get back to that with the people running virtually any of the States right now either. They all love to shit on the BoR, it’s just a question if theirs’ is your preferred style of scheißporn.

    “You had better decide if you’re hanging on the cross or banging in the nails.”

  16. its over..let this go.. this is a dead horse.. even trump shot it dead.. fighting for mag capacity and against outright bans much more important now.. that needs to be the primary focus.. cant waste anymore money on this issue through our gun lobbies..besides every gun owner needs to join the SAF.. they are the ones really fighting for us in the courts…not the nra

    • Yup, and I think we likely would have the en banc votes to overrule. And per some of my contacts, it appears very likely that NCLA (the think tank that is driving this case) *is* going for en banc rehearing . . . .

      As I noted above, Uncle Sam got very, very lucky drawing a panel of 3 dem-appointees on CTA5 — you’d actually have better odds of drawing an all-GOP panel in the Ninth! But en banc in the Fifth, we should have the votes.

      I’d love to see an en banc decision written by James Ho, Don Willett, or Kurt Engelhardt [who delivered a savage beatdown of the Biden Admin earlier this week], but who knows who CJ Priscilla Owen would assign it to?

    • Get real. CTA5 is probably the most conservative circuit in the country — Uncle Sam just got *extremely* lucky to draw an all-dem panel.

      If appellants take the case en banc — which I’m being told is very likely — then you have 16 GOP nominated judges (including hard core conservatives like Jones, Willett, Ho, Engelhardt, Oldham, and Duncan) v. 6 dem appointed ones.

      I like those numbers.

      • “GOP nominated judges”

        Not always a guarantee of partisan decisions, even Trump appointed, Republican confirmed judges often displayed judicial integrity:

        “Friedrich, a Trump-appointee, ruled to keep the obstruction charges in the Justice Department’s case against Nathaniel DeGrave and Ronald Sandlin who were charged for allegedly storming the U.S. Capitol to try and stop Congress’ process for certifying the Electoral College vote of President Joe Biden’s presidential win, according to the indictment.

        DeGrave and Sandlin allegedly broke the law by attempting to stop the proceeding from moving ahead by “engaging in disruptive conduct” and assaulting police officers, the indictment said.“

  17. The 3 stooges (judges)

    Higginson – Harvard: Obama appointed.
    Dennis – Clinton appointed (85yrs old)
    Costa – BS Dartmouth: Obama appointed

    See a pattern in this “cherry” picked panel?

    • CTA5 panels are randomly assigned, and then cases to those panels are also randomly assigned. (There are all sorts of additional safeguards in place to preclude any monkey business along those lines. I used to work for a judge on that Court, and still handle appeals to it.)

      The government just got exceedingly lucky drawing an all-dem appointed CTA5 panel. But methinks that luck runs out if there is a push for rehearing en banc (either by the appellant or by one of the active service judges).

  18. Am I surprised? No. Do I find their logic infallible? No.

    If I owned a Bump Stock, I would have ignored the Unconstitutional Rule Change.
    Now I want one just so I could sat Yuck Fou to All Toddlers Flammable agency.

  19. It seems to me that their argument applies only when the stock is attached to the gun. If you own one and don’t have it on your gun, the gun can’t be automatic. If you merely have a bump stock, and they compel you to surrender it because you might use it with your gun, they would be arresting you for what you might do.

  20. “…they would be arresting you for what you might do.”

    That is the essence of “constructive possession”; a well-established legal construct. (see articles on homemade suppressors – oil filters; see also, drug laws concerning possession with intent to sell).

    • And yet BATFE allows you to possess all parts to convert an M1 Carbine to a full auto M2 Carbine except any one of seven critical parts.

  21. “And yet BATFE allows you to possess all parts to convert an M1 Carbine to a full auto M2 Carbine except any one of seven critical parts.”

    As we used to say at my federal agency: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” Rampant inconsistency is consistency.

  22. Off to the SCOTUS, with any luck. BTW, look for this on YouTube.
    AR-15 SBR Bumpfire (100 Rounds of a Solid Stream of Led)
    AND it’s NOT a SBR, and he fired 99 rounds. He burped on the first.
    Not even a belt loop.

  23. Do these learned jurists actually know the difference between a semiautomatic long gun and the machine gun they have their Nickers In A Knot Over? It appears that they don’t even come close.

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