BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation is hailing the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling that a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a machinegun, and that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives exceeded its authority by issuing a rule that classified the device as a machinegun. The case is known as Garland v. Cargill.

“This is a significant victory for gun owners because it reminds the ATF it simply cannot rewrite federal law,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The agency has just been reminded that it can only enforce the law, not usurp the authority of Congress.”

Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas observed, “We hold that a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a ‘machinegun’ because it cannot fire more than one shot ‘by a single function of the trigger.’ And, even if it could, it would not do so ‘automatically.’ ATF therefore exceeded its statutory authority by issuing a Rule that classifies bump stocks as machineguns.”

For many years, the court ruling notes, ATF “took the position that semiautomatic rifles equipped with bump stocks were not machineguns” under the law. The agency “abruptly reversed course” in response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada in October 2017. The agency subsequently ordered bump stock owners to surrender them or destroy them within 90 days.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision demonstrates that it is impermissible for executive agencies to rewrite the law,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut, a practicing attorney who filed the first lawsuit challenging ATF’s final rule in 2018 while in private practice. “ATF exceeded its statutory authority by issuing a rule that was logically inconsistent with the plain text of the statute and cut into the prerogative of Congress. As the executive branch has continued to use ATF to implement its will and circumvent congressional authority, we are optimistic that today’s decision will send a message that such actions will not be tolerated and that the courts will strike down more regulations inconsistent with the law as Congress wrote.”

About the Second Amendment Foundation:

The Second Amendment Foundation (saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 720,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.