The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled against the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s (ATF) Dec. 26, 2018, decision on March 25.
Bump stocks are classified as machine guns under federal law, and their use is prohibited.
According to NPR, the ownership ban took effect on March 26, 2019.
On the same day that the ATF’s bump stock rule was proposed, a lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Western District of Michigan, Southern Division, challenging the ban.
Plaintiffs argued that the ATF had no authority to consider bump stocks to be machine guns, and they requested a preliminary injunction against the law.
The case was then appealed to the Sixth Circuit, which handed down its ruling on Thursday.
Judge Alice M. Batchelder, an originalist judge in the mold of Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote a plurality opinion opposing the ATF’s interpretive powers.
The Sixth Circuit ruled two to one.
Chevron’s deference to the District Court ruling is crucial, according to Batchelder. she said that the district court ruled that the classification of bump stocks as machine guns in the Final Rule was “a lawful interpretation” of 5845 after finding that the ATF’s interpretation was entitled to Chevron deference of § 5845(b).
As a result, the court determined that Plaintiffs-Appellants were unlikely to prevail on the merits, and the preliminary injunction was refused.
Batchelder then decided that the Chevron deference could not be applied in this case since a government agency’s interpretation of a criminal statute is not entitled to Chevron deference, and the ATF’s Final Rule is not the correct interpretation of § 5845 (b).
The district court’s judgment is “reverted, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, Batchelder wrote.
The case can be appealed to the United States Supreme Court by Attorney General Merrick Garland. Otherwise, the ATF’s regulatory ban on bump stocks has come to an end as a result of the Sixth Court’s decision.
A divided Sixth Circuit ruled Thursday that the federal ban on bump stocks—devices that boost the rate of fire for semiautomatic weapons—is possibly unconstitutional and should be put on hold.
Bump stocks use the recoil energy of a gun to drive it back and forth easily, bumping the shooter’s stationary finger against the trigger. Following the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, in which a gunman used a semiautomatic weapon to murder 58 people, the ruling was applied the the ATF.