Sixth Circuit Issues Ruling Striking Down Bump Stock Ban



March 25, 2021


FRAC applauds the decision of the Sixth Circuit today in the case of Gun Owners of America, et al. v. Garland, et al. wherein the court struck down the ATF’s arbitrary ban on recoil-operated ‘bump stocks’ as being in conflict with the plain language of the law defining machine guns.


The question presented to the Sixth Circuit was “whether a bump stock may be properly classified as a machine gun as defined by 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b).” In a 2-1 ruling, the 3-judge panel concluded that such a classification was illegal. In so holding, the court noted that the “case rests as much on who determines the statute’s meaning as it does on what the statute means.” Additionally, the court held that a government agency’s interpretation of a criminal statute will receive no deference by the court.


In late 2018 the ATF promulgated a regulation proclaiming without merit that recoil-operated ‘bump stocks’ were thereafter to be treated as contraband machine guns under the law. In conjunction with that law, the ATF gave Americans ninety days to destroy or surrender such ‘bump stocks’ without compensation and under threat of felony criminal prosecution for citizens that refuse to comply.


Today, the Sixth Circuit issued a decisive opinion calling out the ATF for its unlawful actions and rejecting the notion that an administrative agency can unilaterally write criminal law. FRAC stands in support of this ruling and commends the valiant efforts of the Gun Owners of America and its co-plaintiffs. FRAC will continue the fight to ensure that ATF acts within the confines of the law and cede no ground when it comes to ATF’s unlawful attacks on the firearms industry.

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