Report: Sixth Circuit Hears Debate Over Legality of Bump Stocks

Courthouse News Service is reporting that, on Wednesday, December 11, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a case challenging President Trump's anti-gun executive action, via the BATFE rule-making process, to ban bump stocks.

From the article:

Attorney Rob Olson argued on behalf of Gun Owners of America at Wednesday’s hearing, and told the Sixth Circuit panel that bump stocks do not convert a semiautomatic weapon into a machine gun.

Olson laid out a hypothetical scenario in which a semiautomatic AR-15 with a bump stock and a fully automatic M-16 rifle were strapped to a table and had their triggers zip-tied. He said that while the M-16 would fire continuously, the AR-15 would fire just a single shot.

The attorney said the device creates a “human compression spring” that allows for an increased rate of fire, but that “the bump stock is simply along for the ride.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Eric Murphy, an appointee of President Donald Trump, asked Olson if his client is seeking a nationwide injunction to prevent enforcement of the rule.

The attorney answered that he is, and that such relief is allowed under the APA.

According to the article, when it was time for the Department of Justice's attorney to defend the government's case, he was grilled by Judge Murphy:

Attorney Brad Hinshelwood from the Department of Justice argued on behalf of the government, saying bump stocks fall under the definition of machine gun because the devices “set up a continuous cycle” of fire once the shooter pulls the trigger.

Murphy spoke at length throughout Hinshelwood’s argument and pressed the attorney about the government’s shifting position on the interpretation of the statutory language found in the National Firearms Act.

Murphy accused the ATF of making mistakes in its interpretation of the Act in the past 10 years, and asked why every AR-15 would not be illegal given that they could be modified to act as fully automatic weapons with bump stocks or other devices.

“The bump stock is the machine gun in terms of the statute,” Hinshelwood responded, pointing out that the government has never thought to include all semiautomatic weapons as machine guns just because they could be modified.

In addition to Judge Murphy, Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Alice Batchelder, an appointee of George H.W. Bush, and U.S. Circuit Judge Helene White, an appointee of George W. Bush, also sat on the panel.

No timetable has been set for the court’s decision.

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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