RW Arms, a Texas-based gun accessory company, is suing the government for $20 million in compensation after surrendering its inventory of bump stocks for destruction in compliance with federal regulations.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. Court of Federal Claims on March 28, the company argues that the destruction of more than 70,000 bump stocks violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection against the seizure of private property for a public purpose without just compensation.
Fort Worth-based RW Arms launched in April 2017, just weeks after leading bump stock manufacturer Slide Fire shuttered. Slide Fire’s closure was prompted by immense public scrutiny following the Las Vegas mass shooting, in which a gunman used multiple bump stocks to kill 59 people and injure hundreds more. The Trace was the first to report last year that RW Arms was illegally selling completed AR-style rifles equipped with bump stocks, without a federal firearms license.
In the aftermath of the massacre, a number of states passed their own bans on bump stocks. Then in late December 2018, the Department of Justice instituted a federal rule to ban the stocks, making their possession illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
RW Arms continued to sell bump stocks up until March 26, when the rule came into effect. At that point, the company let federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives destroy 72,400 of its rapid-fire products at a Dallas metal recycling business. In an interview on Monday with The Dallas Morning News, RW’s founders said the destroyed stocks were worth more than $20 million.
In a separate lawsuit launched in December, a coalition of pro-gun activists used a similar argument in suing the government to reverse the bump stock ban altogether. So far, judges have not been persuaded: None have issued an injunction stopping the rule from coming into effect, and the Supreme Court effectively sided with the government in declining to hear an appeal to initial rulings. Courts have regularly found that when property is seized because it creates a public nuisance, the government does not owe compensation even if the property was legally owned in the first place.
RW Arms did not immediately respond to request for comment.