WASHINGTON - While it isn't the first lawsuit filed over the federal government's recent ban on bump-stock devices, one initiated by Edwardsville attorneys at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims is the only chance, they say, owners have of getting compensated for the taking of their property.
The Flint Law Firm filed suit on Dec. 26, the day the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) adopted a rule retroactively redefining bump-fire stocks as machine guns under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and Gun Control Act of 1968. Until the new rule was published, the ATF had classified bump-stocks as firearm "parts."
Bump stocks, which attach to semiautomatic rifles and speed up their firing rate, are notoriously associated with the mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival in October 2017. The gunman fired more than 1,000 rounds from his room on 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing 58 and injuring hundreds using the device.
"A federal law or regulation that requires previously lawful owners of property to destroy or surrender said property, without just compensation, is unprecedented in the history of the United States," the complaint says.
The class action suit brought by attorneys Ethan Flint and Adam Riley was filed on behalf of Roy L. McCutchen of McCracken, Ky. and Paducah Shooter's Supply of Paducah, Ky. and seeks to represent others who have purchased bump-fire stock or bump-fire type devices from June 7, 2010 to the filing of the complaint.
Plaintiffs say that the ATF's final rule is an unprecedented requirement that forces owners to surrender or destroy their bump stocks within a 90-day period, "with no opportunity for registration," and which therefore effects a "taking" of their property in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Riley said the U.S. Court of Federal Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over "taking" claims in excess of $10,000 and many individuals that could be included in their proposed class action have claims that exceed that amount.
"This was the first lawsuit filed in the correct forum after the regulation became final," Riley stated. "Some other lawsuits that are either not viable or that are in the wrong forum have received significant media attention. Our case is the only chance for individual property owners across the nation to get compensated for their bump-stocks."
The suit says that the ATF's amended regulation has destroyed all economic value and all investment-backed expectations in plaintiffs' bump-stocks.
"Bump-stocks that were once legally owned, and unregulated, firearm parts by plaintiffs are now considered machine guns under the NFA and cannot be lawfully possessed, transported, donated, or devised," the suit says.
Plaintiffs seek class certification, an order finding the federal government took their property in violation of the Fifth Amendment, compensation for property taken, costs of suit, attorneys' fees and compensation for their deprivation and losses.