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Gorsuch Speaks Out on Trump Rewriting Gun Laws without Congressional Approval

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  • Gorsuch Speaks Out on Trump Rewriting Gun Laws without Congressional Approval

    After 2017's mass shooting in Las Vegas, Donald Trump vowed to use the powers of the presidency to ban bump stocks, a type of firearm accessory that the shooter reportedly used. "We can do that with an executive order," Trump declared. "I'm going to write the bump stock; essentially, write it out….They're working on it right now, the lawyers."

    What the lawyers at the Department of Justice ultimately came up with was a new rule amending "the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regulations to clarify that [bump-stock-type devices] are 'machineguns' as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968" because "such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger." The federal ban on machine guns, in other words, would now be interpreted by the Trump administration to cover bump stocks too.

    "Where was Congress in all of this?" you might ask. "Isn't it the job of the legislative branch—not the executive—to change the meaning of a federal law?" Not according to Trump's Department of Justice. In the final bump stock rule published in the Federal Register, the agency justified its actions by invoking a controversial Supreme Court opinion that says the executive should enjoy broad deference when interpreting the meaning of "ambiguous" federal legislation. "When a court is called upon to review an agency's construction of the statute it administers," the bump stock rule states, "the court looks to the framework set forth in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc."

    Today, Justice Neil Gorsuch threw a little shade at the Trump administration for unilaterally rewriting federal gun laws. "The agency used to tell everyone that bump stocks don't qualify as 'machineguns.' Now it says the opposite. The law hasn't changed, only an agency's interpretation of it," Gorsuch wrote. "How, in all of this, can ordinary citizens be expected to keep up—required not only to conform their conduct to the fairest reading of the law they might expect from a neutral judge, but forced to guess whether the statute will be declared ambiguous….And why should courts, charged with the independent and neutral interpretation of the laws Congress has enacted, defer to such bureaucratic pirouetting?"
    https://reason.com/2020/03/02/gorsuc...onal-approval/
    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
    - Benjamin Franklin

    The new right wing: hate Muslims, preaches tolerance for Nazis.

  • #2
    Maybe it's because Congress isn't doing their job of legislating because they're too busy playing cops and lawyers trying to get Trump removed from office...

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    • #3
      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
      Maybe it's because Congress isn't doing their job of legislating because they're too busy playing cops and lawyers trying to get Trump removed from office...
      Excuses, Trump never tried nor wanted to have this run through Congress.
      "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
      - Benjamin Franklin

      The new right wing: hate Muslims, preaches tolerance for Nazis.

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      • #4

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        • #5
          Originally posted by TactiKill J. View Post
          Today, Justice Neil Gorsuch threw a little shade at the Trump administration for unilaterally rewriting federal gun laws. "The agency used to tell everyone that bump stocks don't qualify as 'machineguns.' Now it says the opposite. The law hasn't changed, only an agency's interpretation of it," Gorsuch wrote.
          https://reason.com/2020/03/02/gorsuc...onal-approval/
          That same conundrum should also run for all other government agencies, such as the EPA. The EPA routinely changes the acceptable levels of different types of pollution, without requiring Congressional approval. 'The previous level was wrong. The new level will be XXX.'

          The same can be said about this gun interpretation. The previous standard was too lax and lenient. Gun owners got the benefit of that relaxed interpretation, but the new interpretation will be the standard of enforcement. It may set a bad precedent, but Congress can always revoke that interpretation by amending the Act(s).
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          • #6
            When he does anything he catches hell, when he does anything he catches hell.....
            Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
              When he does anything he catches hell, when he does anything he catches hell.....
              Abusing his powers to expand upon gun laws, at his sole discretion, is no big deal to you? Figures. I wouldn't expect someone that supports red flag laws to get why this is important.
              "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
              - Benjamin Franklin

              The new right wing: hate Muslims, preaches tolerance for Nazis.

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              • #8
                The ATF also used to say that you couldn't shoulder pistol braces, now they say that the pistol brace cannot be manufactured as a stock but an end user isn't required to follow some 'recommended' use. I'm kind of torn on this. IF the rules are vague, then there has to be an interpretation for enforcement. The courts clarify, but only after an enforcement action has been initiated. Bump Stocks and Pistol Braces have always fallen in the very 'grey' area. To the same person, looking at them objectively, both are completely innocuous.....and both are Class 3 Weapons. Basically they do what their manufacturer believes is 'just enough' to not be a 'machine gun' or 'Short Barrel Rifle'. And since both of those are Federally regulated, it does fall on the Federal Government to handle that. In the absence of a Congress that will take action within a decade to clarify old laws that have some loopholeish territory, it falls on the Executive to make their best good faith call and then said call goes to the Courts for Case Law. Case Law is what fills all the gaps given to us by Statutory Law.

                I'm against regulating Bump Stocks, Pistol Braces, Binary Triggers, Etc. I think that they're stupid. I also think that the SBR statute is equally stupid, and that the only class 3 weapon should be fully automatic. But in the absence of someone in the Capitol Building who can actually make or amend a law without it turning into a 20 year slog of one side trying to add on pork and the other side trying to add on additional clauses to make all guns illegal, then I can't fault the ATF for making some adjustments to their rules based upon observed use and then letting the courts rule on their adjustments.

                There was pressure to make an adjustment. Hell, this whole forum was up in camps of arms about banning guns, about banning guns with velocities over a certain number, about banning some extremely nitpicky things about certain types of guns, and so forth. Congress was doing what it usually does, which is waste money, sling mud, and actually accomplish nothing of note and certainly nothing that actually needs to be done. Trump felt like the law was slightly vague in an area, and it kind of was. He told the ATF to look into the change, they made the change. If the courts reverse the change, then good....it means that the law will no longer be broad and vague.
                Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
                  the only class 3 weapon should be fully automatic.
                  I could go for that!

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