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Judge Upholds Ban on Bump-Stocked Guns

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 28, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal judge upheld a ban on bump stocks, which turn guns into rapid-fire weapons.

The Trump administration moved to ban them after a single shooter used bump stocks to kill 58 people in Las Vegas in 2017. Judge Dabney Friedrich said the ban was reasonable because bump-stocked guns are effectively machine guns.

In Guedes v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and a companion case, the plaintiffs sued to stop the ban from taking effect. If the judge's ruling holds, the ban will be fully operational next month.

Machine Guns

Machine guns have been highly regulated or illegal in the United States since the 1930s. The National Firearms Act of 1934 included "machine guns, and firearm mufflers and silencers"

Last December, the ATF concluded that bump stocks constitute machine guns under the Firearms Act. The plaintiffs argued that the agency's interpretation contradicted a previous decision to regulate, but not ban bump stocks.

"That this decision marked a reversal of ATF's previous interpretation is not a basis for invalidating the rule because ATF's current interpretation is lawful and ATF adequately explained the change in interpretation," the judge said.

Because Congress did not say what "shoot automatically" and "single function of the trigger" meant, she said, the ATF reasonably interpreted it to include bump stocks.

"Shoot Automatically"

In the Las Vegas massacre, the killer fired more than 1,000 rounds in about 15 minutes. He shot randomly into a crowd of people, leaving more than 900 dead or injured.

The ban is scheduled to take effect on March 26, 2019. It will require people who own bump stocks to destroy the devices or turn them in to authorities.

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