Maryland’s bump stock ban bill, also knows as SB 707, was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan back in April. Because guns. Maryland Shall Issue filed suit in June, arguing the new law is an unconstitutional taking and unreasonably vague. Yesterday, however, a US District Court judge denied Maryland Shall Issue’s request to keep the law from going into effect on October 1.
One of the biggest concerns about the new law is that it can be interpreted just about any way a law enforcement officer or agency wants. That’s do doubt seen as a feature by the legislators who wrote it, not a bug.
But MSI notes that the judge who denied their motion for relief stated that an application to the ATF for an “authorization to possess” a bump stock or other “rapid fire trigger activator” would allow Crab Staters to avoid prosecution. For now. Allegedly.
Anyway, Maryland Shall Issue has sent out an alert about the ruling:
Gun Owners of Maryland: BEWARE!
YOUR ATTENTION AND ACTION ARE NEEDED IMMEDIATELY
On September 14th, 2018, United States District Court Judge James K. Bredar denied Maryland Shall Issue’s motion for temporary relief against the State’s ban on possession of “Rapid Fire Trigger Activators” by SB 707, signed into law by the Governor on April 24, 2018. This means the law will go into effect as passed on October 1st, 2018. That’s just two weeks from now.
HOWEVER, while the case is pending, the judge made it clear that he believes all that’s needed to comply with the law is for the existing owner to send a letter applying for authorization to possess the “devices” covered by SB 707 to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) by 10/01/2018. That is the “grandfather” clause contained in SB 707 and that was the clause that the judge seized upon in holding that MSI had failed to show the “irreparable injury” necessary for preliminary relief.
As he said at the hearing, all you have to do is “apply” to the ATF by October 1 for “authorization to possess” the “device” in order to avoid prosecution for a year. And to the judge, it simply did not matter that the ATF has refused to receive or process any such request for “authorization” because the statute merely required the owner to “apply,” not for the ATF to actually accept the application.
But, here is the rub: The law is so vague that no one knows what it covers. Every gun owner in the state may possess “Rapid Fire Trigger Activator(s), and not even know it. Such “device[s]” includes binary trigger systems, bump stocks, burst trigger systems, a Hellfire Trigger, a trigger crank, or a burst trigger system and copies thereof.
But the banned items ALSO includes any “device, including a removable manual or power-driven activating device, constructed so that, when installed in or attached to a firearm: (I) the rate at which the trigger is activated increases; or (II) the rate of fire increases.” Yet, virtually anything you do to your firearm may “increase” the “rate of fire” by some minute amount, including cleaning it. There is no definition for a “device” and the statute includes ALL firearms, not merely semi-automatics.
At the hearing, Judge Bredar remarked on the extreme vagueness of the State’s law as he demonstrated how GUN OIL being used to lubricate A BOLT-ACTION RIFLE to “increase” the “rate of fire” of the rifle because the action could be worked more efficiently, meaning the trigger could be manually activated faster than it could before using the GUN OIL. The judge thus warned the State that he had real problems with how vague the statute was.
In short, we don’t know what is covered by this language covering a “device” that increases the “rate of fire” and neither does the State, the judge or anyone else. The potential for arbitrary enforcement is quite real.
Click here to read the rest of the alert and to download a form MSI has created for Marylanders to use to apply to the ATF for authorization to possess that bump stock, trigger crank or bottle of RemOil you may or may not own. Good luck.