Critics of federal ban on firearms device win key decision


DETROIT — A federal judge in Michigan should have blocked a Trump administration ban on bump stocks, a device that allows semiautomatic firearms to fire rapidly, an appeals court said Thursday.

The ban came in response to a 2017 shooting in Las Vegas in which a gunman attached bump stocks to assault-style rifles to shoot concertgoers from his hotel room.

The prohibition came in the form of a regulation from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which treated bump stocks like illegal machine guns. But the court, in a 2-1 decision, said changes in criminal law are up to Congress.

“It is not the role of the executive — particularly the unelected administrative state — to dictate to the public what is right and what is wrong,” said judges Alice Batchelder and Eric Murphy of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court also said a bump stock doesn’t qualify as a machine gun.

“This is great news,” said Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Virginia-based Gun Owners of America.

In 2019, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in western Michigan turned down an injunction that would have stopped the bump stock ban. The case now will return to his court.

Gun owner groups “are likely to prevail on the merits and … their motion for an injunction should have been granted,” the appeals court said.

Decisions from the 6th Circuit set legal precedent in federal courts in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.

There have been different opinions about the bump stock ban in federal courts across the U.S., which means the U.S. Supreme Court could intervene at some point. The Supreme Court a year ago turned down an appeal, but it was a procedural step in a case that wasn’t fully developed.

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