Judge Dabney Friedrich of the US District Court for the District of Columbia turned down a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Trump Administration’s bump stock ban from going into effect. This ruling impacts a few of the bump stock ban challenges including Guedes, FPC v. Whitaker, and Codrea v. Barr.
In his ruling Judge Friedrich said that the BATFE was entitled to Chevron deference allowing it to redefine the actual meaning of words.
Most of the plaintiffs’ administrative law challenges are foreclosed by the Chevron doctrine, which permits an agency to reasonably define undefined statutory terms. See Chevron v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, 467 U.S. 837 (1984). Here, Congress defined “machinegun” in the NFA to include devices that permit a firearm to shoot “automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger,” 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b), but it did not further define the terms “single function of the trigger” or “automatically.” Because both terms are ambiguous, ATF was permitted to reasonably interpret them, and in light of their ordinary
meaning, it was reasonable for ATF to interpret “single function of the trigger” to mean “single pull of the trigger and analogous motions” and “automatically” to mean “as the result of a self- acting or self-regulating mechanism that allows the firing of multiple rounds through a single pull of the trigger.” ATF also reasonably applied these definitions when it concluded that bump stocks permit a shooter to discharge multiple rounds automatically with a single function of the trigger. That this decision marked a reversal of ATF’s previous interpretation is not a basis for invalidating the rule because ATF’s current interpretation is lawful and ATF adequately explained the change in interpretation.
The plaintiffs have already said that they plan to appeal this to the DC Court of Appeals.
You can read the reaction of the plaintiffs in this joint statement by the Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Foundation.