LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is joining 20 other state attorney generals in making a push for the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that permits federal regulators to outlaw bump stocks.
The attorneys general are arguing that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not have regulatory authority to criminalize the possession of bump stocks, which Rutledge described as “a longtime legal accessory for semiautomatic rifles designed for those with limited hand mobility.”
That ruling would require owners to surrender or destroy the devices or face possible fines or jail time. In a release announcing her decision to join the brief, Rutledge said she believe the bureau is going past their authority.
“ATF has overstepped its authority and as Arkansans’ last line of defense, I will do everything in my power to ensure our Second Amendment rights are protected,” she said.
The coalition of AGs is arguing that a federal appeals court could have weighed ATF’s regulations against congressional intent and the Constitution, citing it as a Second Amendment issue.
They also contend that the judgment could put gun owners at risk of criminal liability without proper legislative and judicial safeguards.
In February of 2018, then Pres. Donald Trump issued a memo to his attorney general to draft a rule banning “all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.” In December of that year, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced that ATF rules would be updated to classify bump stocks as machine guns under federal law.
The ATF claims that bump stocks fall under their “machine gun” definitions since the device allows semi-automatic firearms to shoot more than one shot with a single trigger pull “by harnessing the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm to which it is affixed so that the trigger resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter.”
Currently, the ATF directs anyone with a bump stock to destroy the device or turn them over to a local ATF office.
In addition to Rutledge signing the West Virginia-led brief, attorney generals from Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming give full support to the effort.