EAST ST. LOUIS • A man from Southern Illinois sued President Donald Trump and two other federal officials Wednesday, claiming that last month’s ban on bump stocks and similar devices was unconstitutional.
The suit also seeks to represent the owners of an estimated 500,000 or more bump stocks and win them compensation of between $125 million and $250 million if the devices have to be destroyed or turned in.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis by a man who sued as a “John Doe,” saying that if he used his real name, he could be arrested and prosecuted for continuing to possess “one or more bump stock and/or bump firing devices.”
The devices attach to a rifle and use the recoil of an initial shot to allow the weapon to fire continuously.
In addition to naming Trump, who ordered the ban, it names acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Thomas E. Brandon, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The suit says bump stock owners should be permitted to register the devices or be compensated for their loss. It says federal officials erred when they claimed they had no authority to allow a registration period or amnesty for registering devices owned before the ban, and called officials’ interpretation “arbitrary and capricious.” Registration periods have been allowed multiple times in the past when rules changed, the suit says, and the ATF has repeatedly ruled that bump stocks are not firearms or machine guns and don’t require registration.
Among other claims, it also says that it is unconstitutional for Congress to try and register such devices if they are simply possessed in someone’s home and not transferred across state lines.
In the rule, officials said that the devices had been misclassified in the past and that the government did not have to provide compensation for a “restriction on ‘contraband or noxious goods’”
Doe’s lawyer, Thomas Maag, did not return a message seeking comment.
The lawsuit follows a similar one filed in federal court in Michigan late last month by a pro-gun group. An Edwardsville law firm filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Dec. 26 on behalf of a Kentucky man and Paducah Shooter’s Supply, Inc., a firearms dealer.
UPDATED Jan. 5 with details of another bump stock lawsuit.