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Federal judge upholds ATF ban on bump stocks set for March

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Federal judge upholds ATF ban on bump stocks set for March
The government's decision to ban bump stocks -- modification to semi-automatic rifles to make them fire quicker -- was a legal move, a federal court ruled. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Monday upheld a ban by the Trump administration on bump stocks -- firearm modifications like one used by the Las Vegas gunman to kill 58 people in 2017.

U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich said a challenge to the ban from the Firearm Policy Foundation and other plaintiffs "have not met their burden of showing entitlement to preliminary injunction."

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The court ruling will allow the ban on bump stocks to go into effect March 26. The devices increase the rate of fire for semi-automatic rifles. The ban makes it illegal to sell bump stocks or similar devices and people in possession of the devices will be required to destroy or turn them over to local authorities.

The Firearm Policy Foundation said the ban "smacks of agency abuse" and was the "product of serious multi-dimensional legal violations." The plaintiffs also argued that then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker didn't have the authority to issue the ban.

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Firearms Policy Coalition president Brandon Combs said he could appeal the ruling.

"I don't think anyone wants an executive branch that can just make law by fiat with whatever they want for criminal penalties behind it," Combs said. "It's a dangerous place for our republic to say you can buy something one day and change its mind the next and send you to prison."

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Friedrich dismissed the case because it didn't show the government had done anything wrong in outlawing the devices. She said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was within its right to redefine the rules that had previously allowed bump stocks.

RELATED Justice Department to ban bump stocks more than a year after Vegas shooting

"That this decision marked a reversal of ATF's previous interpretation is not a basis for invalidating the rule because ATF's current interpretation is lawful and ATF adequately explained the change in interpretation," Dabney said in her court ruling.

Dabney also wrote an in-depth explanation of Whitaker's authority to enforce the ban.

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