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Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Bump Stock Ban

  The   Supreme Court   struck down a federal ban on bump stocks enacted by the Trump administration on Friday.   The 6-3 ruling was split a...

 The Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on bump stocks enacted by the Trump administration on Friday. 

The 6-3 ruling was split along ideological lines. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) exceeded its statutory authority when it announced a ban on bump stocks following a 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. In the ruling, Thomas said that equipping rifles with bump stocks does not turn them into machine guns, meaning they cannot be prohibited under existing law.

“This case asks whether a bump stock — an accessory for a semi-automatic rifle that allows the shooter to rapidly reengage the trigger (and therefore achieve a high rate of fire) — converts the rifle into a ‘machinegun,’” Thomas wrote in his decision. “We conclude that semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a ‘machinegun’ because it does not fire more than one shot ‘by a single function of the trigger.’”

bump stock is a device that can be attached to a semi-automatic firearm. It reduces the length of time between trigger pulls by harnessing the gun’s energy from recoil.

Thomas was joined in his decision by Justices John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Samuel Alito, who wrote a concurring opinion. In his concurrence, Alito said it would require new congressional legislation to ban bump stocks. 

“The horrible shooting spree in Las Vegas in 2017 did not change the statutory text or its meaning. That event demonstrated that a semiautomatic rifle with a bump stock can have the same lethal effect as a machinegun,” Alito wrote. “There is a simple remedy for the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machineguns. Congress can amend the law—and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation.”


The three liberals on the court, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, all dissented. 

The case came to the high court after gun owner Michael Cargill sued the government to reverse the ban after he turned in two of his bump stocks to the feds. 

As the case made its way through the court system, both the 5th and 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the ban. Biden’s Justice Department defended the rule in court after it was implemented by the Trump administration. 

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