There’s been big news for gun rights these past few days. With headlines focusing on Biden officially pulling David Chipman’s nomination to serve as ATF director.
An important story that many gun owners may have missed though, is a little story about Military courts.
On September 9th, 2021, 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 look 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. Mr. 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, including 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.”
The court goes on to explain that the Bump stock not only does not meet that definition but similar situations have also already been litigated in Civilian courts as well. They go on to cite Gun Owners of America v. Garland which took place in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In GOA v. Garland, the Sixth Circuit agreed that bump stocks did not meet the definition of a machine gun. They also interestingly noted that the current classification of bump stocks as machine guns has relied upon Chevron deference which for those of you who are unfamiliar is a legal principle that compels federal courts to defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute.
Long story short, the Judges declared that the Bump Stock is not a machine gun. This adds to the growing list of Bump Stock court cases making their way to the Supreme Court, as the U.S. Court of Military Appeals is like the Federal Court of Appeals, one step below the Supreme Court.
So now you might be asking yourself? “Why should I care about the Bump Stock?” Well put simply, the current legal precedent allows for ATF and the anti-gun lobby to now take steps to ban all semi-automatic firearms. It is extremely important for those of us that care about our 2nd amendment rights to draw a line in the sand and say, “No More.” The goal of the anti-gun lobby and the Congressmen that line their pockets with their donations is the complete and total disarmament of the United States of America. The Bump Stock might just be the key to their goal. The complete and total repudiation of this ban is how we stop them.