When the ATF, at the Trump administration’s direction, waived is regulatory magic want and announced that bump fire stocks (which they’d previously approved) had magically become machine guns, they created hundreds of thousands of criminals. People who had legally purchased bump fire stocks and then had to make the choice of destroying them, turning them in, or becoming an outlaw.
In March, the Supreme Court denied cert on a motion for a preliminary injunction in Guedes v. BATFE, but the underlying case is still moving forward. In an opinion written for the cert denial, Justice Neil Gorsuch, attacking arbitrary interpretations of law by federal regulatory agencies, wondered why the courts should “defer to such bureaucratic pirouetting” by the ATF.
He’s not the only judge who isn’t impressed with the administration’s reasoning in banning bump fire stocks.
On March 30, Judge Brantley Starr, a Trump appointee who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, issued a blistering opinion in Lane v. United States that basically accused the DOJ of ignoring foundational constitutional principles in its defense of Trump’s bump stock ban.
The Justice Department justified the ban as a lawful exercise of the “federal police power,” Starr observed. But “the federal government forgot the Tenth Amendment and the structure of the Constitution itself,” which grants no such power to the feds. “It is concerning that the federal government believes it swallowed the states whole. Assuming the federal government didn’t abolish the states to take their police power,” Starr wrote, he had no choice but to deny the government’s motion to dismiss the case. He then tartly added: “The Court will allow the government to try again and explain which enumerated power justifies the federal regulation.”