LAS VEGAS (CN) – A federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit against bump stock manufacturer Slide Fire yesterday, finding that it couldn’t be held liable for casualties in the massacre at last year’s Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.
U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro’s ruling defined bump stocks as a component part of the rifle, not a firearm accessory – and that means they cannot be subject to litigation.
Bump stocks consist of a block that replaces a rifle’s pistol grip and a hollow shoulder stock that is attached to the rear of an AR-15-type rifle, and whether they are defined as firearm parts or components determines their liability.
A component is a part of something that makes up a whole, and an accessory is subordinate or not essential, instead adding flair, convenience or effectiveness to the rifle.
Whatever opposition the class raised to the Slide Fire’s products, it had to prove that bump stocks weren’t protected under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which says manufacturers and sellers of firearms “are not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products.”
Slide Fire argued that their bump stocks are indeed part of the firearm, defining them as a rifle stock essential for shoulder-firing. It also cites a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms guidebook that identifies the stock as a component, as well as a finding in which the agency concluded that bump stock is not regulated as a firearm under the Gun Control Act or National Firearms Act.
But the class insisted that because bump stock is purchased after the rifle, it is an accessory.
Navarro disagreed, finding that “bump stocks enhance a rifle’s operation and are installed after purchase by an end user,” which does “not negate the fact that bump stocks are substituted in for the original stock rendering them essential units.”
“Indeed, because the Court finds that a bump stock constitutes a type of replacement shoulder stock, this regulation is not inconsistent with the Court’s holding that bump stocks are component parts of a firearm,” Navarro continued.
One of the class’s claims was that Slide Fire misrepresented to the ATF that its devices were intended for those with limited mobility.
But that has no bearing on whether the bump stock should be considered a component or an accessory, the court found. Aside from that, there is no evidence that the ATF took the bump stock’s suitability for those with limited mobility into consideration before making its licensing decision.
Slide Fire compared the component/firearm issue to snow tires. In that scenario, the plaintiffs would be saying that snow tires would no longer be original tires with chains added, the manufacturer argued.
The class can file an amended complaint for an exception to the PLCAA within 21 days.