Gun Owners of America: Executive Branch Lacks Legal Authority to Ban Bump Stocks

A bump stock is installed on an AK-47 and its movement is demonstrated at Good Guys Gun and Range in Orem, Utah
GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP GEORGE FREY

Gun Owners of America (GOA) sent President Trump a letter on May 1 which expresses their conviction that the executive branch lacks the legal authority to ban bump stocks.

GOA has led the charge against a bump stock ban from the moment it began in response to the October 1, 2017, Las Vegas attack. The push began legislatively but soon faltered, as Americans did not rally behind proposed bump stock bans. The push then morphed into a regulatory maneuver, as ATF put forward a policy change that would redefine the term “machine gun” to cover machine guns and non-machine guns alike. This redefinition will make it possible to treat non-conversion firearm accessories like bump stocks as if they were conversion devices, therefore opening the door to an all-out ban on the stocks.

The group has repeatedly warned that such a re-definition of terms opens the door not simply to a ban on bump stocks, but on semi-automatic firearms in general. They have pledged to file suit against any bump stock ban and believe the executive branch would be overstepping its bounds in implementing such a ban.

Executive director of GOA Erich Pratt expressed these concerns to President Trump, writing:

I write to you today because of the recent regulations that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives proposed on your behalf. These regulations will infringe the Second Amendment rights of Americans—the very same Americans who elected you based on your promises that you would defend those rights. Respectfully, Mr. President, we want you to understand that you do not possess the legal authority to ban so-called “bump stocks” or “bumpfire stocks” by decree. An executive ban of bump stocks, by classifying them as machineguns, would utterly contradict the plain text of the federal statute regulating machineguns, even as the Obama administration repeatedly conceded.

He added:

President Trump, neither the ATF nor the Department of Justice has ever believed there is executive authority to ban bump stocks, nevertheless they have now followed your orders to do just that. I implore you to respect the text of the National Firearms Act, and the plain meaning of the Constitution, which states that the people’s right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed.” And I ask you to keep the promises you made to the nation’s gun owners who elected you to office.

The regulatory steps to bump stock gun control are well under way, with the DOJ working at Trump’s behest to get the ban in place quickly.

“I respectfully disagree with my good friends who oppose this measure,” said Breitbart News Senior Legal Editor Ken Klukowski, who taught the Second Amendment as a law school professor and has helped litigate gun-rights cases in federal court.

“The National Firearms Act of 1934, at 26 U.S.C. 5845(b), defines a machinegun as ‘any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.’ The law goes on to say that this applies to ‘any part … or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon in a machinegun,’ and goes on like that.

“A bump stock is designed and intended to make a rifle continue to fire automatically with a single pull on the trigger by a person. I agree with President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, and the National Rifle Association that this regulation is fully consistent with federal law and the Second Amendment.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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