Congress has not prohibited bump stocks, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has made them illegal with a Final Rule issued without statutory authority. In a noteworthy development, ATF’s latest court filing admits that it lacked rulemaking authority under the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act to issue a legislative rule. ATF thus now agrees with NCLA that the district court below was wrong on this point of law.
The New Civil Liberties Alliance has filed a brief on behalf of client Clark Aposhian, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to reject ATF’s remaining defenses of the Final Rule, restore Mr. Aposhian’s constitutional rights, and grant him a preliminary injunction to possess his lawfully acquired property. Specifically, NCLA argues that ATF’s interpretation is not the best reading of the statute and that the Court of Appeals cannot properly invoke the Chevron judicial deference doctrine to defer to ATF’s interpretation.
This case is not about whether gun control is a good idea. Rather, Mr. Aposhian’s appeal raises key issues about how an agency may create such a ban—that is, whether agency regulations may contradict a statute passed by Congress. The appeal also challenges the notion that a mere interpretive rule can bind third parties, such as owners of bump stocks.
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