A Houston, Texas, man has been charged with possession of a banned bump stock. He is believed to be the first person in the U.S. charged with this crime.
Bump stocks have been banned since last March following the Parkland, Florida, shooting. The ban was effected through an executive order by President Trump. Legal challenges to the bump stock ban are ongoing.
The Houston man is alleged to have had a bump stock attached to a Colt AR-15 rifle.
What is a Bump Stock?
A bump stock is an attachment to a semi-automatic rifle which enables sustained, rapid shooting. The bump stock can turn a weapon into a much deadlier weapon. A bump stock was used in the Las Vegas shooting. The bump stock replaces the rifle’s standard stock.
The attachment “bumps” back and forth between the shoulder and the trigger finger, leading to rapid firing. It’s a way to increase shooting output. Possession of fully automatic weapons manufactured after 1986 is outlawed, and a person needs a federal license to own a model made before 1986. Special ATF Agent Jill Snyder explains before the bump-stock ban went into effect, “Bump-fire stocks, while simulating automatic fire, do not actually alter the firearm to fire automatically, making them legal under current federal law.”
The interest in banning bump stocks increased after the Las Vegas shooting in which 58 people died with many more wounded. A bump stock bans received bi-partisan support in Congress.
Under the ban, those in possession of bump stocks had 90 days to turn them into the ATF or destroy them.
The U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Ban on Bump Stocks
Pro-gun rights groups are challenging the ban on bump stocks in federal courts around the country. The group Gun Owners of America petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the executive order while challenges to the bump stock ban made its way through the courts. The Supreme Court refused to block the ban. The case centers on executive authority, which is the ability of the president to create laws, rather than a Second Amendment case. The petition contends that the Trump administration exceeded its authority in creating the ban. A lawsuit out of Utah is proceeding in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Another lawsuit is working its way up through the U.S. District Court of D.C.
The Houston man, Ajay Dhingra, is charged with four firearm-related counts. The charges are possession of a firearms and ammunition by someone who had been committed to a mental institution, two counts of making a false statement about his mental health history during the purchase of weapons, and possession of a bump stock.
These convictions could result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each charge.
Mr. Dhingra is alleged to have possessed a Glock 9-millimeter pistol and hundred of rounds of ammunition. He came to the attention of federal agents when he sent a letter to the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The letter allegedly asked the former president to, “send one of your boys to come murder me. I want to die by the hands of a white Christian.”
Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ann Arbor.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
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