Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 17,300+ case briefs...

United States v. Camp

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
343 F.3d 743 (2003)


The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Ernest Camp (defendant) for possessing a machine gun, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(o)(1) and 924(a)(2). Section 5845(b) of Title 26 U.S.C., a statute defining various types of weapon, described a machine gun as "any weapon which shoots . . . automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger." Section 5845(b) also used, but did not define, the term "trigger" in describing shotguns and rifles. The trial evidence established that, pursuant to a warrant, police searched Camp's home and found illegal drugs, drug-manufacturing equipment, and weapons. One of the weapons was a semiautomatic rifle that Camp had modified by installing an electrical switch, a small motor, and a fishing reel. When flipped on, the switch activated the motor, which spun the reel. With this contraption, Camp could fire multiple rounds in rapid succession for as long as he squeezed the rifle's original trigger. A federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agent testified that Camp's electrical switch was not a legal "trigger activator," because the ATF defined a trigger activator as a spring that merely facilitates pulling a gun's trigger to squeeze off one shot at a time. Nevertheless, the trial judge accepted Camp's argument that the switch was not a "trigger" within the meaning of § 5845(b). The judge granted Camp's Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12 motion to dismiss the case. The government appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Barksdale, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 457,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 457,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 17,300 briefs, keyed to 984 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial