A Utah gun-rights advocate has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the ban on bump stocks announced last month by the Trump administration is unconstitutional, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, argues that the executive branch cannot rewrite laws “as it sees fit.” He contends that’s what the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) did to establish the new regulation.
“At its most basic, this is about constitutional order and about who has law-making power,” said Caleb Kruckenberg of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonprofit civil rights organization representing Aposhian.
In a related development, a class-action lawsuit argues the federal government must compensate gun owners who must give up their bump stocks under the ban, reports the Daily Caller. The suit, filed by lawyer Adam Riley, argues that owners are entitled to monetary compensation under the Fifth Amendment’s “Takings Clause,” which states “private property shall not be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
President Trump promised last March he would ban bump stocks — which alter semi-automatic rifles to fire in quick bursts like a machine gun — because they “turn legal weapons into illegal machines.” His administration reclassified the accessories in December as machine guns, which are subject to heavy restrictions for buying, selling or owning under federal law. Congress has not prohibited the possession of bump stocks by statute.
“Congress can define a machine gun any way it wants to,” said Kruckenberg. “But now that it’s done so [in past legislation], the ATF doesn’t have the authority to change that and they don’t have the authority to say, ‘Well, actually it’s something very different.’ ”
The ban reverses a 2010 ATF decision that found bump stocks were not the same as machine guns and couldn’t be regulated the same way. Bump stocks were used in an October 2017 shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, which left 58 dead and almost 100 injured.