Supreme Court to Review Legality of Bump Stock Ban After Las Vegas Shooting

by Ryan Lee
bump stock ban legality

The U.S. Supreme Court has consented to determine the legitimacy of a prohibition on bump stocks, accessories that enable semi-automatic firearms to shoot in rapid succession akin to automatic firearms. This ban was initiated during President Trump’s tenure.

Deliberations are set for the upcoming year to scrutinize a Justice Department regulation instituted following the 2017 Las Vegas massacre.

Divergent rulings have emerged from federal appellate courts regarding the alignment of the bump stock definition as a machine gun with the existing federal statutes.

The Supreme Court has announced that it will consider an appeal from the Biden administration against a judgment by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which declared the prohibition invalid.

In a separate ongoing legal challenge, the Supreme Court is analyzing the constitutionality of a federal statute aimed at disallowing individuals with domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms. This inquiry follows the pivotal 2022 ruling that saw the conservative majority on the court bolster gun ownership rights.

However, the current case in question pivots not on the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms,” but on whether the procedures for amending the bump stock regulation under the Trump administration were in accordance with federal law.

The prohibition on bump stocks, enacted in 2019, originated from the horrifying incident in Las Vegas. In this tragedy, the assailant, a former postal service worker and avid gambler aged 64, used modified assault rifles to unleash over a thousand bullets within 11 minutes into a concert crowd of 22,000 attendees.

The majority of the firearms were equipped with bump stock mechanisms and extended magazines. The assault resulted in the immediate death of 58 people, with two subsequent fatalities and several hundred injuries.

This ban represented a significant reversal for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives which had earlier, in 2010 under the Obama administration, determined that bump stocks did not fall under the category of a machine gun and thus were not subject to federal prohibition.

The Las Vegas attack prompted a reassessment of this stance, leading to a revised interpretation that the initial judgment was flawed.

According to the ATF, bump stocks utilize the semi-automatic firearm’s recoil to perpetuate firing, essentially allowing the shooter to maintain firing without manually moving the trigger after each shot.

Legal documentation indicates that the user is required to apply continuous forward pressure on the firearm with the support hand and steady trigger pressure with the firing hand.

In January, the full U.S. 5th Circuit ruled with a majority of 13-3, asserting that a legislative amendment by Congress is necessary to enact a bump stock ban.

Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod of the 5th Circuit opined that the current statutory definition of ‘machine gun’ does not encompass bump stocks.

Conversely, a trio of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit interpreted the same legislative text differently.

Judge Robert Wilkins, representing the District of Columbia Circuit, reasoned that a bump stock qualifies as an autonomous mechanism facilitating the discharge of multiple rounds via a single trigger pull, thereby classifying it as a machine gun under the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act.

A resolution in the case, titled Garland v. Cargill, No. 22-976, is anticipated by the onset of summer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about bump stock ban legality

What is the Supreme Court reviewing in relation to bump stocks?

The Supreme Court is set to review whether the Trump administration’s ban on bump stocks, which allows semi-automatic weapons to fire like automatic ones, adheres to federal law following divergent opinions from federal appeals courts.

When did the ban on bump stocks take effect?

The ban on bump stocks was implemented in March 2019 in response to the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017.

What was the ruling of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the bump stock ban?

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the current definition of a ‘machine gun’ in federal law does not include bump stocks, thus invalidating the ban.

What did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decide about bump stocks?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that bump stocks qualify as machine guns under the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act because they allow a gun to shoot more than one shot with a single trigger pull.

What is the significance of the case Garland v. Cargill, No. 22-976?

Garland v. Cargill is the legal case in which the Supreme Court’s decision on the legality of the bump stock ban is expected by early summer.

More about bump stock ban legality

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Mike Hunt November 3, 2023 - 8:31 pm

it’s interesting to see how the Supreme Court’s gonna navigate this one, especially after the split in the lower courts

John Smith November 3, 2023 - 10:52 pm

gotta wonder how this will affect gun laws moving forward, seems like a pretty pivotal case

Sarah Connor November 4, 2023 - 12:38 am

is it just me or does it seem like these legal decisions are taking longer than usual?

Jane Doe November 4, 2023 - 2:00 pm

Cant believe its been years since Vegas shooting and we’re still debating bump stocks

Joe Bloggs November 4, 2023 - 6:12 pm

i read that the 5th circuit decision was a 13-3 vote, that’s a pretty strong consensus against the ban.


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