10th Circuit Exempts Utah Man From Bump-Stock Ban

WASHINGTON (CN) – W. Clark Aposhian is a Salt Lake City resident, a gun enthusiast and the owner of a bump-stock, a device he uses during target shooting that lets his semiautomatic gun mimic the way an automatic weapon fires.

A bump stock is attached to a semiautomatic rifle at the Gun Vault store and shooting range on Oct. 4, 2017, in South Jordan, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

There are some 520,000 such devices across the country and their owners face criminal penalties or fines if they do not turn them in or destroy them by Tuesday, when the Trump administration’s ban on bump stocks goes into effect.

But Aposhian won’t have to worry.

The 10th Circuit ruled Thursday that the ban will not apply to Aposhian, and Aposhian alone, allowing the Salt Lake City resident to continue using the device during his recreational shooting outings for the time being.

“Solely for the purpose of giving the court adequate time to properly consider the motion, the court will temporarily enjoin appellees from enforcing the final rule only as to Mr. Aposhian during the time required to adequately consider and rule on the pending motion,” the court’s two-page order states.

In response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017 that left 58 people dead and hundreds more injured, the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms in December issued a rule that treats bump stocks as machine guns, making them illegal.

The rule drew multiple legal challenges, including one in Washington, D.C., that is currently before the D.C. Circuit after a federal judge denied gun groups’ request to temporarily block the order.     

Backed by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, Aposhian filed his own lawsuit challenging the order in January, saying the administration did not have authority to issue the ban. He argued that such an action should come from Congress, not from an executive branch agency and that it would make criminals of people who thought they were operating within the bounds of the law when they bought their bump stocks.

“Whatever the merits of such a law, the final rule violates the fundamental constitutional order and thus cannot be tolerated,” Aposhian’s complaint stated.

A federal judge in Utah denied Aposhian’s request to block the rule from going into effect earlier this month, prompting his appeal to the 10th Circuit.

“Today, the court of appeals told the ATF that it could not rush through the bump stock ban without meaningful judicial review,” Caleb Kruckenberg, an attorney with New Civil Liberties Alliance, said in a statement. “The court understands the stakes and is refusing to let an innocent owner be declared a felon, as scheduled.”

The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment on the ruling.

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