Guedes v. BATFE, a case challenging the legality of the bumpstock ban enacted by the BATFE per the demands of the Trump administration’s DOJ, was denied writ of certiorari last Monday, with Justice Gorsuch authoring a statement on the denial.
While we would obviously have preferred to see the case heard on its merits, Justice Gorsuch does provide clear reasoning for the court’s denial; at this time, there are multiple bumpstock-related cases wending their way through the lower courts. Justice Gorsuch says as much:
“Further, other courts of appeals are actively considering challenges to the same regulation. Before deciding whether to weigh in, we would benefit from hearing their considered judgments—provided, of course, that they are not afflicted with the same problems.”
Disappointing as it may be, cases about administrative power to interpret their own regulation bears consequence beyond bumpstocks. For those unfamiliar, regulatory bodies can create, enforce interpret, and defend their own rules, and unless challenged by Congress, are considered legal. This is undoubtedly intended to streamline the regulatory process for things that likely need little if no congressional oversight for day-to-day changes in regulation around the function of the federal government; however, when these interpretations directly infringe on Constitutionally protected rights, this muddies the water. Let’s hope that Justice Gorsuch speaks for a larger body of the Court when he says:
“But waiting should not be mistaken for lack of concern.“
However, promises of concern are an empty consolation. While the SCOTUS waits, Americans are being stripped of their lawfully purchased firearm accessories, and the precedent permitting regulatory bodies like the ATF to wholesale ban commonly-owned objects that aren’t even considered firearms, in and of themselves. Further, the penalty for retaining control of a functioning bumpstock carries the full potential of any BATFE firearms violation: 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
We support all ongoing efforts to challenge this gross administrative overstep, and hope to see a favorable ruling for gun owners from the courts as soon as possible.
You can read the full statement from Justice Gorsuch here on Scribd. The Firearms Policy Foundation, a plaintiff on this case, also released their statement on their site last week.
The official ATF resource on recoil capture devices (bumpstocks) can be found on the atf.gov website, here.