ATF Bump Stock Rule Demonstrates the Dangers Inherent in Administrative Actions
New York – -(AmmoLand.com)- Agency rules must be scrutinized carefully by the courts for they have a tendency to override congressional legislation
The American public has historically given little thought to the relationship between Congressional legislation and Administrative action. That must change. The new ATF Rule makes clear that the public must become aware of the intricacies of Governmental action lest the American people lose their sacred fundamental rights and liberties. The American people should have learned long ago of the danger posed to a free Republic through the insinuation of so-called “elites” into the political process. What ensues is oft, appropriately referred to, as “the tyranny of experts.”
How has this come about? It has come about due, paradoxically, to the manner in which our Federal Government operates. The only true “checks and balances” in our Nation are those that rest in the enumerated rights and liberties of the American people, and singularly in the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
If we lose that basic, inherent right, we have lost everything. That is not hyperbole. That is fact.
Congress makes law, yes. But, in faithfully executing Congressional statute, the Executive Branch must turn Congressional legislation into operational rules. That is the job of Executive agencies.
Congressional legislation provides the mandate through which agencies act. Agencies promulgate rules, allowing for implementation of law. However, that mandate isn’t open-ended. Congressional legislation establishes the parameters beyond which the Executive Branch must not venture. Yet, with disturbing regularity, we see the President, through the Executive agencies he presides over, overstepping his Constitutional authority.
In Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), the U.S. Supreme Court established the standard of Court review of agency interpretation of statute. The case is abstruse.
The majority of Americans probably never heard of it. Yet, among legal scholars, the U.S Supreme Court Chevron case is likely the most often cited case. Hundreds of academic articles have been written about it. Hundreds more will probably be written. And our case law is legion with references to it.
In Chevron, the high Court wrestled with the amount of discretion that federal Courts—the Judicial Branch of the Federal Government—should give to administrative agencies when those agencies interpret law to promulgate operational rules through which Congressional acts are effectuated. The question for the Courts turns on whether statutory language is ambiguous. If the language is ambiguous, Courts will defer to the agencies—the experts—to resolve the ambiguity, unless the Courts determine the agency’s interpretation is unreasonable. But, then, the Court is itself interpreting statute: hence the conundrum for the Courts.
But that is not the case here, with the ATF Bump Stock Rule, and that is because the definition of ‘machine gun,’ in Congressional Statute, is clear and unambiguous, certainly as unambiguous as our common language, English, can be. The ATF Rule is particularly exasperating as it blatantly ignores the Congressional Statutory dictate in order to promulgate a rule to cohere to a political goal—thereby making a mockery of our system of laws and the very concept of the “Rule of Law” that politicians love to cite but rarely, if ever, actually adhere to.
The ATF Rule, as promulgated, sets forth that bump stock modifications of semiautomatic rifles convert semiautomatic rifles into machine guns because only one pull of the trigger is required to initiate multiple firing of the weapon. But that statement is either true or it is false.
If true, then the semiautomatic firearm is, in fact, a machine gun. If not, then, the semiautomatic firearm remains a semiautomatic firearm because it is semiautomatic in operation. Rate of fire is irrelevant. Michael Curtis, supra, points out that, in the absence of an “accelerator spring,” a bump stock device—in its usual form (and keep in mind that the ATF Rule fails to consider and appreciate that bump stocks may have different configurations and operate in different ways)—requires one trigger pull for each successive shot. Performance is not a factor, as NRA clearly and correctly points out; the manner of operation is the only factor that comes into play.
Thus, unless Congress enacts legislation to redefine the expression, ‘machine gun,’—redefining it in a way that is contrary to industry use—the President of the United States, through the DOJ-ATF is not lawfully permitted to do redefine ‘machine gun’ on its own, which, it audaciously has done, even as the language in the Rule says otherwise. The DOJ-ATF action amounts to ad hoc rule-making; ad hoc rule-making, subject to the whims of political pressure, but presumptuously finalized as enforceable law. The DOJ-ATF Rule is nothing more than illegal Executive Branch edict. Its presence makes a mockery of law. It is a travesty. If allowed to stand, it amounts to the usurpation of our entire system of laws and justice, and legal jurisprudence.
The New ATF Rule Banning “Bump Stocks” Portends a Total Ban on Semiautomatic Weapons.
If allowed to stand, this ATF Rule dangerously undermines the Second Amendment because the Rule unlawfully conflates semiautomatic firearms and machine guns. If rapidity of fire becomes the de facto if tacit but clearly salient factor and new rule-made—as opposed to Congressional enacted—definition of ‘machine gun,’ which presently defines the expression,’ machine gun,’ in terms of manner of operation, not performance, then all semiautomatic firearms will inevitably and invariably be subsumed into the nomenclature of ‘machine gun.’ Indeed, the mainstream media—comprising stooges and political hacks posing as journalists who know nothing about firearms’ operations and who have no desire to gain such knowledge—merely echoes the sentiments of antigun zealots. The mainstream media routinely argues that no appreciable difference exists between machine guns and semiautomatic firearms, anyway. The running narrative of these organizations is directed to motivating the public to demand, of Congress, the annihilation of the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The purpose of these “news” organizations has nothing whatsoever to do with news reporting. The Press, today, delivers propaganda masked as news. There is no appreciable distinction anymore between what appears in the Op-Ed sections of these “news” publications or in what is purportedly presented as “real” news, neutrally presented.
We have seen how antigun zealots create, through the artifice of ‘assault weapon,’ a useful fiction through which semiautomatic firearms can be ostensibly lawfully banned. President Trump has, consciously or not, but certainly ill-advisedly and uncritically, created, through the DOJ-ATF Bump Stock Rule, a re-branding of semiautomatic firearm as machine gun based, essentially, on performance, albeit deliberately creating vagueness as to whether “bump stocks” necessitate one-trigger pull for every shot or multiple shots with one trigger pull in an attempt to “get around” the lack of any vagueness or ambiguity in the statutory definition of ‘machine gun.’
If Trump and the DOJ-ATF are allowed to get away with this subterfuge, then it is but a small step from a total ban on “bump stocks” to a total ban on all semiautomatic firearms, since rate of fire—utilized as the salient and subjective basis for elimination of firearms in the hands of civilians—will now provide the “ammunition” antigun zealots can and will latch onto in their unyielding zeal to continue to weaken the Second Amendment. And it is Trump, now, not Schumer or Pelosi, who has given them a vehicle they can and will use to destroy at once the citizen’s best means of self-defense and destroy, as well, the one truly capable defense in the citizen’s possession, to prevent or at least deter the onset of tyranny.
We urge all Americans, who support the Second Amendment, to sign the Petition, to overturn the ATF Rule that bans “bump stocks.”
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