US Supreme Court Overturns Bump Stock Ban Linked to Las Vegas Shooting

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US Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Gun Bump Stocks

US Supreme Court Overturns Bump Stock Ban Linked to Las Vegas Shooting
US Supreme Court Overturns Bump Stock Ban Linked to Las Vegas Shooting

Historic Decision Reverses 2018 Ban Enacted After Las Vegas Shooting

In a landmark ruling on Friday, the US Supreme Court lifted the ban on bump stocks, the rapid-fire gun accessory linked to America’s deadliest mass shooting. The court’s decision stated that the government did not possess the authority to prohibit these devices.

Background of the Ban

The bump stock ban was implemented by the Trump administration following the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooting, which resulted in the deaths of 60 individuals. The shooter had equipped 12 of his semi-automatic rifles with bump stocks, enabling him to fire at a rate comparable to machine guns.

Legal Challenge and Supreme Court Ruling

A Texas gun shop owner contested the ban, arguing that the government had overreached by categorizing bump stocks as machine guns, which are illegal under federal law. The case ascended to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the shop owner.

The court’s opinion, authored by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, concluded that a semi-automatic rifle equipped with a bump stock does not meet the federal definition of a machine gun. The opinion highlighted that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) had exceeded its regulatory authority.

Split Decision and Dissenting Opinions

The ruling was not unanimous, with three of the nine justices dissenting. Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor opposed the decision. Justice Sotomayor warned that reinstating bump stocks into civilian hands would lead to “deadly consequences,” equating the device to machine guns under the 1986 Firearms Act’s definition.

Technical and Legislative Perspectives

During the March hearing, some conservative justices expressed doubts about the ban’s legality, noting minor technical distinctions between bump-stock-equipped rifles and machine guns. Justice Neil Gorsuch remarked that although he understood the rationale for making bump stocks illegal, such a decision should be made by Congress, not regulatory agencies. Conversely, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson argued that bump stocks fall under the category of weapons Congress intended to ban due to their destructive potential.

Mechanism of Bump Stocks

Bump stocks utilize a rifle’s recoil to facilitate rapid firing. By replacing the weapon’s stock and allowing it to move back and forth between the user’s shoulder and trigger finger, the bump stock enables continuous firing without the need for the user to repeatedly pull the trigger.

Reactions and Implications

The decision has sparked varied reactions. A spokesperson for Donald Trump’s campaign acknowledged the court’s authority, stating that “the court has spoken and their decision should be respected.” Conversely, a representative for President Joe Biden, who is set to debate Trump in June, criticized the ruling, asserting that “weapons of war have no place on the streets of America.”

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