Case Information: Modern Sportsman v. United States, No. 20-1107 (Fed. Cir. brief filed June 2, 2020).
At Issue: On October 1, 2017, a gunman armed with multiple AR-15 assault rifles modified with bump stocks unleashed a torrent of gunfire on a crowd of concert-goers in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 58 people and hitting 422 others with bullets or shrapnel. Following the shooting, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) ruled that bump stocks, which modify semiautomatic firearms to shoot at near-automatic speeds, should be classified as prohibited machine guns, and gave owners 90 days to either destroy or surrender their bump stocks. A coalition of bump stock sellers and purchasers challenged the ATF’s rule under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which requires “just compensation” if private property is taken for public use. The federal trial court dismissed their complaint, and the case is now on appeal before the Federal Circuit.
Giffords Law Center’s Brief: We filed a brief in this case on behalf of 15 gun owners who support reasonable gun safety laws. In the brief, the gun owners argue that responsible gun owner or sellers were all aware that bump stocks existed to exploit a regulatory loophole in the machine gun ban, and shouldn’t have been surprised that the government acted to close this loophole. The Takings Clause analysis used by courts considers whether plaintiffs could have “reasonably anticipated” the possibility of regulation. It also considers precedent showing that the Takings Clause applies when property is taken for government use, not to products banned because they endanger the public. The gun owners’ brief argues that since responsible gun owners and sellers anticipated bump stocks would be banned to protect public safety, the court should reject the Takings Clause challenge.