June Yields Two
Key Legal Victories


Image: Studio_East // Adobe Stock

In consecutive days earlier this month, the firearms industry celebrated two legal victories — one in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the other in a U.S. District Court. Both decisions addressed the limits of the ATF’s authority on rule-making — much to the chagrin of the anti-gun movement.

Garland v. Cargill

June 14, in a 6–3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a semi-auto rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a machinegun. The case, known as Garland v. Cargill, challenged ATF’s sudden decision to include bump stocks under the definition of “machinegun” in response to the tragic mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip in October 2017.

Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas noted, “We hold that a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a ‘machinegun’ because it cannot fire more than one shot ‘by a single function of the trigger.’ And, even if it could, it would not do so ‘automatically.’ ATF therefore exceeded its statutory authority by issuing a Rule that classifies bump stocks as machineguns.”

“This is a significant victory for gun owners because it reminds the ATF it simply cannot rewrite federal law,” said SAF Founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “The agency has just been reminded that it can only enforce the law, not usurp the authority of Congress.”

In response to this decision, President Joe Biden reiterated a familiar appeal to Congress: “I call on Congress to ban bump stocks, pass an assault weapon ban and take additional action to save lives — send me a bill and I will sign it immediately.”

Representatives from prominent anti-gun group Everytown For Gun Safety weighed in, as well.

“It remains our belief the ATF had the authority to categorize bump stocks as machineguns and keep them out of our communities. This decision by the high court is dangerous and wrong,” added Eric Tirschwell, executive director of Everytown Law. “The ATF must be undeterred in continuing to aggressively enforce our nation’s gun laws.”

Mock v. Garland

A day earlier, June 13, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced a significant legal victory in its Mock v. Garland lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s “pistol brace” ban rule issued by ATF.

In the decision, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled the ATF’s pistol brace rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act’s procedural requirements — granting summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and vacated the rule nationwide.

“Today’s order shows our community can take on an immoral government and win. We look forward to defending this victory on appeal and up to the Supreme Court, just as we have in other cases,” said FPC President Brandon Combs.

SB Tactical, originator of the Pistol Stabilizing Brace, published a statement on its social media channels commending the decision.

“We would like to thank @gunpolicy for all of their efforts on this case as well as @fracaction and @palmettostatearmoryofficial for joining us in filing an amicus, the arguments of which were largely adopted by the court. Additionally, we would also like to thank the @nra for their unwavering support,” a statement on SB Tactical’s Facebook read.

FPC expects the Mock decision and remedy to be appealed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ongoing Challenges

While these advancements on a national level are welcoming, there are numerous threats at the state level — including California’s “sin tax” taking effect next month, the Colorado state legislature’s pursuit of anti-gun bills, New York’s impending implementation of a law forcing dealers to add warning signs in their establishment and more.

In a more recent decision (June 21), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case — United States v. Rahimi — that tested the limits of its 2022 Bruen decision. In a 8–1 ruling, the High Court upheld a federal gun ban for domestic abusers.

“The Bruen decision remains intact and will continue to be an important building block necessary to continue winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time,” said the Second Amendment Foundation in a press release reacting to the decision.