AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two years after a man killed 58 people in Las Vegas, the Trump administration banned bump stocks — a device used by the shooter that can allow a shooter to quickly fire multiple shots from semi-automatics after an initial trigger pull to fire weapons. After several legal battles, Texans can now buy them again.
After the massacre, the Justice Department amended the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) regulations to change the definition of “machine gun” to include stockpiles. Federal law largely prohibits “machine guns,” though a person with a special permit can own one.
“Boom, the [Trump] The US government decided to go through the ATF instead of going through Congress and was outlawed [bump stocks]said Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works.
“So I decided to file a lawsuit against the federal government – the Department of Justice and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – to get the ban on small stocks overturned. Because my problem was that the ATF can’t make laws—Congress makes laws,” Cargill continued.
And the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears civil and criminal cases from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, largely agrees with Cargill. In a 13-3 decision in January 2023, the court said that “Cargill is right” and that ATF had no authority to issue such an order.
After the ban went into effect in 2019, owners of bump stocks, including the device’s largest manufacturer, were told to turn them over to ATF or destroy them. Because all of the devices were destroyed, Cargill said the manufacturer had to start from scratch, but after the 5th Circuit’s decision, people living in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi can buy the device.
“He does bump stops. He hands them over to the people. And he’s selling them to people in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi,” Cargill said.
Cargill said that ATF had an opportunity to appeal the 5th Circuit Court ruling to the US Supreme Court, but that they missed their February 27 deadline. Cargill said they have another opportunity in early April.
“The ball is theirs,” he said. “All the ATF has to do is take this case to the Supreme Court.”
KXAN spoke to a local attorney, Douglas O’Connell, about why the ATF would have decided not to appeal the case.
“The government either botched it up and didn’t appeal in a timely manner – which I doubt – or they decided they didn’t want to appeal,” O’Connell said.
“And that’s pure speculation, but they may have decided if we appeal and get a negative verdict on our decision, that’s national. While that decision currently only applies in three states,” he said.
Texas Gun Sense’s Nicole Golden said she thought the court’s decision to overturn the ban was dangerous.
“This move shows a complete lack of regard and respect for victims and survivors of gun violence from this shooting, across the country and in Texas,” Golden said.
“We should give our full support – in a bipartisan way – to sensible measures to prevent gun violence. It’s the complete opposite direction.”