First Bump Stock Prosecution Fails In Houston

The first prosecution involving bump stocks since the Trump administration outlawed the devices failed on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, in Houston, Texas. The prosecution withdrew the possession of the banned device charge after failing to provide evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

Contrarily, the defense was ready to call a retired ATF expert witnesses, Rick Vasquez, to confirm that bump stocks did not convert a semiautomatic firearm into a machine gun. Bump stocks cause a gun to increase the fire rate but fail to meet the statutory threshold definition of a machine gun.

“If something doesn’t meet the definition of a machine gun, it’s not a machine gun,” defense attorney Tom Berg said. “And no amount of wishing or passing rules can change it.”

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The prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick, also refused to discuss the issue, saying that it would be inappropriate to expound on the prosecutorial discretion on the case at the time.

However, the prosecution obtained a conviction of the suspect, Ajay Dhingra, on lying while purchasing a rifle, handgun, and ammunition. Senior U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller also was found Dhingra guilty of possessing a firearm despite having a history of mental illness.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker enacted the bump stock ban through an administrative rule official notice in 2018. He argued that bump stocks qualified as “machine guns” because they allowed a person to fire a semiautomatic firearm continuously with just a single pull of the trigger.

The ban stemmed from the 2017 Las Vegas hotel shooting where an assailant killed 58 people using a firearm modified with a bump stock.

The ruling proved that gun rights activists were right when they declared the ban unconstitutional. Gun control activists celebrated the triumph of administrative tyranny without realizing that due process had to be followed to convict Americans persecuted for exercising their constitutional rights.

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