HELENA — Montana and 17 other states have joined together on an amicus brief (friend of the court) in a lawsuit challenging a Trump administration rule criminalizing bump stock accessories.
Bump stock devices gained national attention when one was used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that left 59 dead and hundreds more injured.
On February 20, 2018, President Trump issued a memorandum instructing the Acting Attorney General “to dedicate all available resources to… propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.” The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) then developed a rule clarifying that bump stocks fall within the definition of “machinegun” under federal law.
Bump stocks harness the recoil energy of a semi-automatic firearm to produce fire rates close to that of fully automatic weapons. When attached to an AR or AK family firearm, depending on the model, the devices have been shown to achieve up to 400 and 800 rounds per minute.
The rule, which took effect in march of 2019, required owners of bump stock accessories to turn the devices into the ATF or destroy them to avoid criminal liability.
Gun Owners of America sued saying the rule is an overreach by the ATF.
A United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit Panel ruled against the ATF in March 2021.
Attorney General Austin Knudsen said in a statement: “The panel in this case came to the only logical conclusion – the ATF is trying to create laws where none exist. The full court should uphold their commonsense ruling.”
The other attorneys general joining the legal challenge are from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.