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IPFS News Link • Gun Rights

US Military Court Rules Bump Stock Is Not A Machine Gun

•, Op-Ed

With Chipman's nomination removed, gun owners might have missed this story, absent from mainstream media, about military courts ruling bump stocks are not machine guns. 

On Sept. 9, the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that bump stocks are not machine guns in the case U.S. v. Ali Alkazahg. This is a big win for gun owners and reaffirms the fact that items that are not machine guns by legal definition cannot be classified as machine guns simply because the ATF "feels" like they meet the definition.

Let's take a peek at the case. Private Ali Akazahg was in Hawaii on the Marine Corps base in Kaneohe Bay. While there, he was convicted of possessing two machine guns in violation of the UCMJ or Uniform Code of Military Justice. Although, these "Machine Guns" were, in fact, bump stocks. Akazahg's defense argued that bump stocks did not meet the legal definition of a machine gun.

Here's an excerpt from the decision:

"Instead, the President directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives [ATF] to issue a new interpretation of a rule—that contradicted the ATF's previous interpretation—governing legislation from the 1930s. This Executive-Branch change in statutory interpretation aimed to outlaw bump stocks prospectively, without a change in existing statutes."

The court is essentially laying out the fact that the ATF bypassed Congress to create law. They go on to explain that:

"In 1986, Congress passed the Firearms Owners' Protection Act [FOPA], banning possession of machine guns not owned before 1986. FOPA also banned any parts, to include frames and receivers, which were part of a machine gun or were designed for converting a weapon into a machine gun. The current statute at issue is 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b), which defines what a machine gun is. Due to having a bump stock, Appellant was charged under the statute which states that a machine gun is "any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically, more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger."