Cargill V. Garland – Big Win In 5th Circuit On Bumpstocks

I have not had time to read the whole decision and I have to run in a few minutes to help set up a booth for Grass Roots North Carolina at the local gun show. With that out of the way, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled en banc that the BATFE’s bumpstock ban is invalid. The decision was 13-3.

From the decision:

The definition of “machinegun” as set forth in the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act does not apply to bump stocks. And if there were any doubt as to this conclusion, we conclude that the statutory definition is ambiguous, at the very least. The rule of lenity therefore compels us to construe the statute in Cargill’s favor. Either way, we must REVERSE.

Later the ruling states on the grammatical construction of the law:

The statutory definition of machinegun utilizes a grammatical construction that ties the definition to the movement of the trigger itself, and not the movement of a trigger finger. Nor do we rely on grammar alone. Context firmly corroborates what grammar initially suggests by demonstrating that Congress knew how to write a definition that is keyed to the movement of the trigger finger if it wanted to. But it did not. The Government offers nothing to overcome this plain reading, so that we are obliged to conclude that the statutory definition of machinegun unambiguously turns on the movement of the trigger and not a trigger finger.

The court does take up Chevron deference and states it does not apply here as the wording of the statute is unambiguous.

The opinion of the court was written by Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod who was appointed by President George W. Bush.

5 thoughts on “Cargill V. Garland – Big Win In 5th Circuit On Bumpstocks”

  1. They also state that Chevron doesn’t apply to bumpstock due to ATF reversing course; something the 5th will soon apply to pistol braces, I hope.

  2. IANAL, but … logically, if the definition of “machinegun” turned on the movement of the trigger finger and not the trigger itself, all repeating arms that don’t require manual cycling and/or recocking after each round would be machineguns.

    That would include all semi-autos, and even double-action revolvers.

    Congress has gotten a lot wrong over the years, but as legal definitions go they’ve done much worse. This at least precisely describes exactly what they intended to regulate, in very clear language. (Whether they had the authority to regulate it in the first place is another issue entirely, but it’s hard to argue they didn’t write a good definition for it.)

  3. There is no “end” to this.
    Was the Bruen decision an end for NY state? Have any of these “big wins” stopped the continual litigation and legislation by anti-gun NGOs? Mayors Bloomberg, de Blasio, or Adams? OR and WA legislatures? ETC!

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