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Attorneys for gun groups ask appeals court to expand stay in bump stock case

March 25, 2019 GMT

Attorneys for groups challenging the Trump administration’s bump stock ban are asking a federal appeals court to expand a limited delay of the effective date of the ban, which is slated to take effect on Tuesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit over the weekend ordered a stay of the effective date of the ban, but only for those involved in the case, which is being supported by several nonprofit gun-rights advocacy groups.

Attorneys asked the court to modify the order and stay the effective date of the ban until 48 hours after it issues a final ruling in the case.


If the court doesn’t block the broader ban from taking effect, the lawyers said the additional time would give people involved in the case a chance to petition the U.S. Supreme Court, and that it would also allow current owners of the devices some more time to comply with the new rules.

Absent action, “several hundred thousand individuals will be threatened with imminent felony prosecution and loss of property they believe they lawfully acquired under the ATF’s prior rulings and decades of policies and practices,” lawyers argued in their emergency motion, filed late Sunday.

Alternatively, attorneys asked the court to clarify that the delay it had previously ordered extends to members and supporters of the groups “and those similarly situated members of the public.”

Current owners of the devices, which attach to semiautomatic weapons to mimic the rate of machine gun fire, have to either destroy them or turn them over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) before the ban takes effect on March 26.

The Trump administration moved to impose the ban after several high-profile shootings, including one in Las Vegas in October 2017 in which a gunman used bump stocks to spray more than 1,000 rounds down onto concertgoers, leaving 58 people dead.

Gun-rights advocates sued, pointing to ATF rulings during the Obama and George W. Bush administrations saying that bump stocks were not machine guns and thus fell outside the bounds of associated federal regulations.

The Trump administration said it took a fresh look after the Las Vegas shooting, and the Justice Department concluded that the devices do essentially operate as machine guns, saying they harness recoil energy to allow continuous firing.