West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that, if left intact, inappropriately permits federal regulators to outlaw a popular firearm accessory and potentially imprison those who fail to comply with the new mandate.
The attorney general led a 20-state coalition Friday. Its brief argues the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was afforded too much deference in using the regulatory process to criminalize the possession of bump stocks — a longtime legal accessory for semiautomatic rifles designed for those with limited hand mobility.
The coalition estimates that potentially as many as 520,000 legally purchased bump stocks are in circulation. The new rule would require owners to either surrender or destroy their devices or otherwise face serious fines and imprisonment.
“The lower court ruling raises serious concerns about ATF’s power to subject hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners to criminal sanctions,” Morrisey said. “Such far-reaching consequences underscore the urgent need for further review.”
The coalition argues a federal appeals court should have exercised greater judicial independence in weighing ATF’s regulation against congressional intent and the Constitution, especially the Second Amendment.
The brief contends the need for independent judicial review grows even stronger in instances where the challenged regulation would impose criminal sanctions. Without further review, the coalition argues the lower court ruling would potentially expose nearly every American to the risk of criminal liability without proper legislative and judicial safeguards.
The West Virginia-led brief received support from attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.