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Lawsuit over Florida ‘bump stock’ ban rejected

OREM, UT - FEBRUARY 21: A bump stock is installed on an AK-47 at Good Guys Gun and Range on February 21, 2018 in Orem, Utah. The bump stock is a device when installed allows a semi-automatic to fire at a rapid rate much like a fully automatic gun. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An appeals court Thursday rejected a lawsuit stemming from a decision by the Legislature to ban gun “bump stocks” after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Plaintiffs contended in the lawsuit that the ban on bump stocks was a taking of property that should lead to compensation for bump-stock owners.

But Leon County Circuit Judge Ronald Flury in 2019 dismissed the case, writing that the decision to ban bump stocks “was a valid exercise of the state’s police power” and that the Legislature had given owners a window of time to sell or transfer the devices out of Florida.

The gun owners appealed the dismissal to the 1st District Court of Appeal, but a three-judge panel Thursday upheld Flury’s decision.

In a concurring opinion, Judge Scott Makar wrote that the 2018 law banning bump stocks “does not directly appropriate property. Instead, (the section of law) required the plaintiffs, at a minimum, to no longer possess their bump-fire stocks in Florida after the statutory grace period; they were required to transfer these items (or to sell them to buyers) out of state by October 2018 (presumably they could destroy them as well). The statute’s effect, therefore, was not a direct appropriation of the bump-fire stocks (i.e., the State of Florida did not take physical possession of them); instead, it eliminated the pre-existing intra-state possessory rights the plaintiffs had exercised.”

Judge Adam Tanenbaum wrote the main opinion, with Judge Lori Rowe joining him. Bump stocks are devices that make semi-automatic weapons mimic fully automatic firearms.

The ban was part of wide-ranging legislation that lawmakers passed in 2018 after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in which 17 students and faculty members were killed.