Fort Worth based retailer RW Arms announced on Tuesday, April 9th that they would be joining The Modern Sportsman in a lawsuit against the Federal Government. In the filing, both companies allege various wrongdoings on behalf of the government, and request “just compensation.” A lot is going on in the filing, most of it interesting, so let’s break it down.
The (Revised) Filing
There are actually two filings in the court case. The initial filing came on March 26th of this year on behalf of The Modern Sportsman LLC. Here’s one of the things that caught my eye. The first filing referred to bump stocks as “firearm parts.” Firearm parts is a legal term, subject to certain rules and regulations. The second filing referred to bump stocks as “firearm accessories” instead.
Mr. Adam M. Riley, one of the two attorneys listed in the filing, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. He explained that while the first ATF white letter called bump stocks a firearm part, after talking to his clients and other industry experts they decided that bump stocks were more appropriately defined as firearm accessories. He mentioned that this meant they were subject to different rules. If the court accepts this reasoning, it would be additional evidence that the ATF acted improperly.
Mr. Riley additionally said, “the government had to change the classification to make these things illegal, which retroactively banned property which has never been done in the history of our country even in prohibition cases.” He called this reclassification “unprecedented” in our nation’s history.
Request For Restitution
The most current filing names four plaintiffs. The first is The Modern Sportsman LLC, which reports destroying 1,479 bump stocks. The second, RW Arms, destroyed 73,462. The third and fourth are individuals, Mark Maxwell and Michael Stewart, who got rid of 29 and 25 bump stocks respectively. The plaintiffs allege that the government acted improperly by forcing them to get rid of their bump stocks without restitution. Because of this violation of their 5th Amendment rights, they are requesting compensation.
The 5th Amendment protects against the government seizing property without “just compensation”. This is generally understood to mean the fair market value of the item(s) being seized. With bump stocks ranging in value from $180 to $500, if the lawsuit proceeds the US Government could end up paying anywhere from $13.5 million up to $37.5 million just in this one case. Those numbers come in before attorney’s fees and any other relief the court may deem appropriate.
The original filing is in the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system. Because it is behind a login screen, it cannot be directly linked. If you are interested in viewing the complaint directly, create a PACER account, and search for “The Modern Sportsman et al., v. USA”.