Court Battles

Federal appeals court tosses out challenge to bump stock ban

A federal appeals court Thursday tossed out a challenge to the federal ban on bump stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at a more rapid pace.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Daniel Patrick, the gun owner who brought the case, did not have standing to sue the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The appeals court dismissed Patrick’s arguments that the rule was invalid because it was first made in 2018 by then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who Patrick claimed was improperly designated to his post by then-President Trump. The rule was later approved again in 2019 by then-Attorney General William Barr, who had been confirmed by the Senate. 

The court also said Patrick failed to effectively argue that he would suffer a “concrete” injury in being forced to give up his bump stock.

“First, Patrick’s asserted injury, being required to surrender his bump-stock device to federal authorities, is not redressable because he did not challenge Attorney General Barr’s later ratification of the Rule. Second, Patrick’s additional claim, in which he challenges the Executive Branch’s alleged ‘ongoing policy’ of improperly appointing agency officers, is too speculative to constitute the assertion of a concrete and particularized injury,” the court ruled.

The Department of Justice first banned bump stocks in 2018, giving gun owners at the time 90 days to destroy their devices or turn them in at the nearest ATF office. Calls for the ban reached a fever pitch in 2017 after the device was used in a shooting at a Las Vegas concert that killed almost 60 people and wounded over 500 others. 

Patrick filed his suit in February 2019, saying the ban rule “presently deprives” him of his property rights.

The Fourth Circuit’s decision marks the latest defeat to bump stock advocates. The Supreme Court earlier this month declined to hear a case challenging Maryland’s ban on the device after the same appellate court dismissed the case.

Tags Bump stock Donald Trump Gun politics in the United States Las Vegas shooting William Barr

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