The law, which was put in place via executive order in March 2019, attempted to include “bump stock” devices under the federal statutory definition of a “machine gun,” rendering the stocks illegal and forcing gun owners to destroy or surrender them to federal authorities or face substantial prison time.
Bump stocks are typically used on AR-15-style rifles that allow the shooter to utilize the recoil of the rifle to shoot rapid fire, similar to that of a machine gun.
Trump issued the ban via executive order in response to the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, where a gunman used a rifle equipped with a bump stock to fire into a crowd, killing over 50 people.
The ban led Central Texas Gun Works owner Michael Cargill to challenge the law in federal court. After initially losing in federal district court and before a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit, he prevailed in his last appeal to the full appellate court.
The 13-3 ruling issued on January 6, sided with Cargill’s argument that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) lacked the authority to include bump stocks under the statutory definition of a machine gun.
The court agreed, writing, “A plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of machinegun.”
According to the National Rifle Association, the ATF still has the opportunity to decide whether it will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court or let the appellate ruling stand.
At the time of publication, the ATF still displays guidance on its website indicating that bump stocks are illegal and therefore prohibited under Trump’s executive order.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify the name of Cargill’s gun store.
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Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.