The full U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled against the controversial Trump-era executive-level prohibition on bump stocks

In the 13-2 ruling in Cargill v. Garland handed down in a New Orleans federal courthouse on Jan. 6, 2023, the 5th Circuit is at odds with the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit, the Denver-based 10th Circuit, and the Federal Circuit Court for Washington, D.C. This split could cause the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case after batting away several other requested reviews on the subject last year. 

Texas gun shop owner, Army veteran, and firearms instructor Michael Cargill, the plaintiff in last week's case backed by a legal team from the New Civil Liberties Alliance, has long held his argument is about government agencies exceeding their mandate by creating laws. In short, that it should have been the elected members of Congress who together worked to make such a sweeping change to the law, not the executive branch operating unilaterally at the orders of the President through the ATF. 

The court agreed.

Writing for the majority, Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, a 2007 appointment by President George W. Bush, noted clearly that, "Of the sixteen members of our court, thirteen of us agree that an act of Congress is required to prohibit bump stocks, and that we therefore must reverse."  

The NCLA anticipates that Attorney General Merrick Garland's Department of Justice will file a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to resolve the split, and they welcome it. 

"NCLA has been seeking to set aside this unlawfully promulgated regulation from the get-go," said Mark Chenoweth, the group's president and general counsel. "We are pleased that a circuit court has finally—and decisively—recognized that Congress must be the one to pass any bump stock ban. The resulting circuit split should bring this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court’s attention promptly and supply a suitable vehicle for deciding this issue once and for all."

Going far past the subject of bump stocks, the ruling, if upheld by the high court, could be a shot across the bow for sweeping new de-facto laws regulating the definition of frames and receivers along with a looming ban on bump stocks shoehorned into action by the ATF via the rulemaking process, which, like the prohibition on bump stocks, bypassed Congress. 

Banner image: Via Slide Fire Solutions, a former bump stock maker. 

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