The case concerns a regulation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that interpreted the federal prohibition on machine guns as extending to bump stocks. A bump stock is a device that allows a shooter to increase the rate of fire on a semi-automatic weapon.
Prior to this regulation, the ATF had maintained for over a decade that bump stocks were not considered machine guns and issued numerous interpretation letters to that effect. However, this recent regulation sought to change this stance, leading to Cargil’s challenge.
The Fifth Circuit ultimately sided with Cargil, striking down the regulation and holding that bump stocks do not fall within the definition of machine guns under federal law. This decision will have far-reaching implications for the interpretation of federal firearms regulations, as it sets a precedent for future cases.
Since the National Firearms Act of 1934, federal law has heavily regulated machine guns. The possession or transfer of a machine gun is a federal crime, carrying a penalty of up to ten years’ incarceration. The Cargil case highlights the ongoing debate over the interpretation and enforcement of federal firearms regulations and the need for clear and consistent guidelines to ensure the protection of public safety.