Fort Worth firearms dealer sues government after having to destroy 73,000 bump stocks

A Fort Worth-based firearms dealer has filed a federal lawsuit against the government after having to destroy more than 73,000 bump stocks in compliance with a Trump administration order that took effect last month.

RW Arms announced on March 25 that it would comply with the order by turning over its entire inventory of bump stocks to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The order took effect on March 26. The bump stocks were taken to American Shredder to be shredded and recycled.

The lawsuit, which was filed last month, also names The Modern Spokesman, in Minnesota, as a plaintiff.

Bump stocks are devices that now fall under the definition of “machinegun,” which allow a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger by using the recoil energy of the firearm to which they’re attached, according to the definition by the ATF. The trigger resets and continues firing.

The devices gained attention after the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people and injured hundreds at a country music festival. The shooter used bump stocks, authorities have said.

RW Arms filed the lawsuit claiming the Fifth Amendment takings clause, which bans the government from seizing private property for public use without just compensation. The lawsuit also argues that the bump stocks have been long-defined by the ATF as a firearm part and therefore are not regulated as a firearm under the Gun Control Act of 1968 or the National Firearms Act of 1934.

“Between 2008 and 2017 the ATF also issued many classification decisions concluding that certain other bump-stock-type devices, that did not rely on springs, were not machineguns,” the lawsuit says. “The ATF indicated that semiautomatic firearms modified with these bump-stocktype devices did not fire ‘automatically,’ and were thus not ‘machineguns,’ because the devices did not rely on internal springs or similar mechanical parts to channel recoil energy. The ATF classified these bumps-stock devices as firearm accessories which are not subject to regulation.”

However, on Dec. 26, the ATF amended the definition of bumpstocks as machineguns. The new rule clarifies the definition of machinegun in the GCA and NFA.

The Justice Department issued a rule in December banning the devices, giving owners 90 days to turn in or destroy their bump stocks.

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Nichole Manna is an investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she covered crime and breaking news in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She is a 2012 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and grew up in Florida.