Armed Scholar

ATF Appeals to Supreme Court to Uphold Bump Stock Ban

Video Highlights

  • The ATF has submitted arguments to the Supreme Court to review and uphold their ban on bump stocks.
  • The fifth circuit court of appeals ruled that the ATF's definition of a machine gun does not include bump stocks.
  • The ATF filed an appeal to the Supreme Court to challenge this decision.
  • The arguments revolve around whether Chevron deference or the rule of Lindy should be used in interpreting the law.
  • Both sides are seeking Supreme Court review due to conflicting decisions in different circuit courts.

Video Summary

The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) has recently submitted their arguments as to why the Supreme Court should take up their bump stock ban and ultimately uphold it. This comes after a major blow to the ATF when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ATF's final rule on bump stocks is invalid. This decision not only affects bump stocks but also other ATF regulations such as the rule on frames and receivers and the pistol brace ban.

The main issue at hand is whether Chevron deference should be given to the ATF in relation to their final rule on bump stocks. Chevron deference refers to the doctrine of judicial deference given to administrative actions. In order to be given Chevron deference, the agency's interpretation of an ambiguous statute must be rational or reasonable. However, there is an alternative rule called the rule of lenity, which applies when dealing with criminal statutory interpretation. This rule requires the court to interpret any unclear or ambiguous law in a way that is most favorable to the individuals who may be subject to criminal convictions, not the enforcement agency.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the ATF overstepped its authority in regulating bump stocks as machine guns under the Gun Control Act (GCA) and National Firearms Act (NFA). They stated that a plain reading of the statutory language and a close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm reveal that bump stocks are excluded from the technical definition of a machine gun. The court also stated that the ATF's rule violated the principles of lenity, emphasizing the importance of protecting the rights of individuals.

Following the Fifth Circuit's decision, the ATF decided to file an appeal to the Supreme Court in order to challenge this ruling. Their argument is that the Fifth Circuit's decision is inconsistent with the decisions of several other circuit courts that have rejected challenges to the same interpretive rule. They argue that the conflict among circuit courts undermines the uniformity of federal law and also undermines the practical effect of decisions by other courts that have rejected analogous challenges.

Both sides in this case are requesting Supreme Court review. They argue that there are varying decisions in multiple circuit courts, leading to conflicting opinions on the issue. One recent decision that both sides point to is the Sixth Circuit's decision in the Hardin case, which also concluded that the ATF's rule on bump stocks is invalid. The Sixth Circuit used the rule of lenity to interpret the ambiguous statute, coming to a different conclusion than the Fifth Circuit.

The ATF pushes back against adding the rule of lenity into the question presented to the Supreme Court. They believe that the question as originally presented covers the issue without expressly stating it. However, it remains to be seen how the Supreme Court will proceed and whether they will address the issue of lenity in this case.

If the Supreme Court does not grant review to this case, the Fifth Circuit's decision will stand as precedent in the circuit, meaning that the ATF would not be able to enforce the bump stock ban in the Fifth Circuit and potentially in other circuits as well. This would create significant differences in federal law and the ATF's authority.

In conclusion, it is likely that the Supreme Court will have to take up this case due to the conflicting opinions among circuit courts and the potential impact on federal law. The outcome of this case will have significant implications for the ATF and their regulatory authority. As more information becomes available, it will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court addresses this issue.