U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Legality of Gun ‘Bump Stocks’

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    by Kimberly
    Published: June 15, 2024 (4 weeks ago)

    In a landmark decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against reinstating a federal ban on firearm accessories known as ‘bump stocks’. This ruling marks a significant victory for gun rights advocates and sets a precedent in the ongoing debate over the regulation of gun accessories.

    Bump stocks gained national attention following their use in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, where a gunman equipped with these devices killed 58 people and injured hundreds more. The Obama administration subsequently moved to outlaw bump stocks through regulatory measures, arguing they effectively converted semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic ones, which are heavily restricted under federal law.

    However, lower courts blocked the ban, siding with gun rights proponents who argued that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) did not have the authority to redefine the legal definition of a machine gun through regulatory action.

    The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where justices were tasked with deciding whether the ATF had overstepped its bounds in attempting to ban bump stocks without new legislation from Congress.

    In a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining the conservative wing of the court, the justices ruled that the ban was indeed unlawful. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, focused on the principle that agencies like the ATF lack the authority to rewrite clear statutes enacted by Congress.

    “This case is not about whether bump stocks should be illegal,” Gorsuch wrote. “It is instead a simple question about the proper method of interpreting statutory text.” The dissenting justices argued that the ATF’s interpretation was reasonable given the legislative context and the agency’s expertise.

    The decision drew swift reactions from both sides of the gun control debate. Gun rights advocates celebrated the ruling as a reaffirmation of constitutional protections, arguing that the regulation of firearms and accessories should be left to lawmakers, not administrative agencies. Meanwhile, proponents of stricter gun laws expressed disappointment, emphasizing the potential dangers of bump stocks and calling for legislative action to address firearm violence.

    Moving forward, the Supreme Court’s decision is expected to have broad implications for the regulatory authority of federal agencies and the scope of gun control measures in the United States. It underscores the complexities of balancing public safety concerns with constitutional rights, ensuring that future firearm regulations will likely continue to be fiercely debated both in courtrooms and in Congress.

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