WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 25, 2018) — Today, civil rights advocacy organization Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) submitted formal comments to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) regarding a regulatory proposal that would apply the definition of ‘machinegun’ to so-called “bump fire stocks” and countless other devices. In a letter sent by FPC President Brandon Combs, the group called the proposal “troubling” and said that it “raises serious constitutional concerns, including the violation of the separation of powers.”
“The DOJ and BATFE clearly lack the statutory authority to re-define the targeted devices as ‘machineguns.’” But the gun rights group said that, if the government does re-classify so-called “bump stocks” and other devices to be “machineguns” under federal law, they would file a federal lawsuit that “would provide an excellent vehicle for the Supreme Court to re-visit and eliminate the made-up judicial construct of agency deference”—something many Supreme Court justices have signaled as an issue they may revisit soon.
FPC also said that the proposed ban would come at a high price. “These costs would necessarily include likely millions of dollars in BATFE implementation and enforcement costs, in addition to potentially millions of dollars in fending off the inevitable litigation arising from the serious constitutional and statutory violations engendered by this regulatory process,” FPC argued. “Moreover, American taxpayers would also likely be stuck with the bill for the plaintiffs’ attorneys fees and costs should the government fail in attempting to defend this illegal and unconstitutional action.”
After the October 1, 2017, mass shooting in Las Vegas, FPC released a statement saying that, even “in troubled and troubling times like these, we are honor-bound to stand united in defense of fundamental, individual liberties, in all cases, and in spite of the incalculable grief we feel for the victims of Las Vegas as fellow human beings.”
In a subsequent statement FPC repudiated proposed bans on semi-automatic firearms and accessories, including “bump fire” stocks. “All unconstitutional laws are unjust, illegitimate, and offensive to the rule of law—even if they are enacted in response to a very real tragedy. FPC opposes all restrictions on the acquisition, possession, carry, and use of common, semi-automatic firearms, ammunition, and accessories by law-abiding people.”
Later in October, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a news release declaring “bump stock” devices to be “multiburst trigger activators” and “illegal in California.” But FPC responded days later and said that it was Becerra’s statements that were “disingenuous at best and probably illegal.” Said FPC President Brandon Combs at the time, “Not only is Attorney General Becerra’s so-called ‘news release’ inaccurate and misleading, it is almost certainly an illegal underground regulation.”
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.