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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Scheduled to be published on March 14th, newly appointed U.S. Attorney General William Barr will ratify a final rule from the ATF that determined bump stocks to be a “machine gun”.

This reaffirmation is in response to a federal lawsuit challenging then acting Attorney General Whitaker’s unconstitutional appointment to the position, who originally ratified the final rule.

That final rule [signed by Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker on December 18, 2018] has become the subject of litigation in which parties have argued that Mr. Whitaker was not validly serving as the Acting Attorney General, as either a statutory or constitutional matter.

On February 14, 2019, I was sworn in as Attorney General following confirmation by the Senate and appointment by the President. Although I believe that the challenges to Mr. Whitaker’s designation lack merit, I elected, out of an abundance of caution, to independently reevaluate the above-mentioned rule and the underlying rulemaking record.

Having now familiarized myself with the rulemaking record that was before the Acting Attorney General and having reevaluated those materials without any deference to his earlier decision, I have personally come to the conclusion that it is appropriate to ratify and affirm the final rule as it was published at 83 FR 66514, and I hereby do so.

This is an attempted effort to undercut the plaintiff’s case, brought by civil rights and advocacy group Firearms Policy Coalition, led by renowned attorneys Thomas C. Goldstein, Daniel Woofter, Charles H. Davis, and Erica Oleszczuk Evans of Goldstein & Russell, P.C.

AG Barr has taken it upon himself (and on behalf of President Trump) to reaffirm that an executive agency can interpret a clearly written law to mean whatever they want it to mean regardless of what it actually says. The function of a bump stock (as described here) does not meet the legal definition of a “machine gun”, and prior ATF determinations even under the Obama Administration state that it does not.

Firearms Policy Foundation, which is challenging the final rule on this basis, stated:

The text of the federal statutes at issue in the Final Rule are clear and unambiguous, that the rule of lenity precludes the ATF’s proposed new definition of ‘machinegun’, and that the rule is unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious. The brief also argues that the “district court abused its discretion in finding the statutory language ambiguous and erred as a matter of law in according ATF Chevron deference regarding the terms ‘single function of the trigger’ and ‘automatically’.”

Roughly 500,000 owners of bump stocks have until March 26th to surrender or destroy their property without compensation, or will be in illegal possession of a machine gun if this final rule isn’t struck down.

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