High Court Overturns Federal Bump Stock Ban

 June 14, 2024

The U.S. Supreme Court has dramatically changed the landscape of firearms regulation.

In a recent ruling, the court decided that bump stocks do not convert semi-automatic rifles into "machineguns."

The case, Garland v. Cargill, revolved around the classification of bump stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly, and whether they should be considered machine guns under federal law. The Supreme Court ruled by a majority of 6-3 that they do not fall under this classification.

According to Fox News, this ruling has significant implications as it overturns a prior stance by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) under the Trump administration, which President Joe Biden's administration endorsed.

Justice Thomas Clarifies the Legal Status of Bump Stocks

Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. He detailed that bump stocks do not automatically facilitate a gun firing more than one shot per trigger function. This technical distinction led to the court’s decision, as federal law specifically defines machine guns based on their ability to fire multiple rounds by a single trigger function.

Echoing a contrasting viewpoint, Justice Sonia Sotomayor offered a pointed dissent. She equated the rapid-fire capability of bump stocks to that of traditional machine guns. Her disagreement underscores the division within the court regarding this interpretation of firearms technology.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor eloquently expressed her disagreement:

When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck. A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires 'automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. Because I, like Congress, call that a machinegun, I respectfully dissent.

Impact of the Decision on Gun Regulations

Michael Cargill, a Texas gun store owner, emerged as the plaintiff in this landmark case. He had previously been compelled to surrender his inventory of bump stocks following the administration's earlier ban, which responded to the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, one of the deadliest in U.S. history where a bump stock was used.

This legal victory was described by Cargill's lawyer, Mark Chenoweth, as a triumph against what he viewed as regulatory overreach. Indeed, Michael Cargill asserted his dedication to upholding constitutional rights, saying, "Over five years ago I swore I would defend the Constitution of the United States, even if I was the only plaintiff in the case. I did just that." President Biden has publicly decried the ruling, labeling it as a setback to crucial gun safety measures.”

Reactions and Future Challenges

The former regulation of bump stocks was largely a response to the horrific Las Vegas shooting that prompted widespread calls for stricter gun control.

In his opinion for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas clarified, "We hold that a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a ‘machinegun’ because it cannot fire more than one shot 'by a single function of the trigger.'"

As the legal landscapes shift, this Supreme Court decision underscores a broader debate on gun control and firearm regulations in the United States, leaving the nation divided on the path forward.

In summary, the Supreme Court's reversal directly impacts over 500,000 bump stock owners and reflects a significant pivot in how firearms are legally classified and regulated. The decision has triggered responses from every American political and public sphere spectrum, indicating this debate is far from settled.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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