The Supreme Court has agreed to determine whether the ban on bump stocks by the Trump administration was lawful. Bump stocks are attachments that allow semiautomatic rifles to fire rapidly.
The Biden administration supports upholding the ban in their Supreme Court briefs, applauding the Trump administration’s effort to address gun violence following the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting in which a gunman used a bump stock to kill 58 people.
Initially, the Justice Department stated that the executive branch lacked the authority to ban bump stocks without congressional action. However, they later changed their position, believing that they had the power to ban the devices on their own.
The case primarily focuses on executive power rather than the Second Amendment. Challengers argue that the ban, implemented in 2019, goes against federal laws that predominantly prohibit machine guns.
According to the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, a machine gun is defined as a weapon that shoots automatically or can be easily converted to do so. The government lawyers argue that bump stocks fall under these definitions and can therefore be regulated.
One brief in the case, Garland v. Cargill, No. 22-976, states that rifles modified with bump stocks, like other machine guns, have the potential to fire hundreds of bullets per minute. It cites the Las Vegas mass shooting as an example, where the shooter used bump stocks to kill 58 people and wound around 500 within minutes.
Federal appeals courts have issued conflicting rulings on whether the ban is authorized by the laws. There have been 22 opinions on the matter, spanning approximately 350 pages.
The challengers argue that the purchase of 520,000 bump stocks and the expected loss of over $100 million in property, along with the lack of national uniformity in the sale and possession of bump stocks, remain subjects of controversy and dispute despite the regulation.
Bump stocks utilize a firearm’s recoil energy to enable it to continue firing after a single trigger pull. The Justice Department contends that this transforms semiautomatic weapons into machine guns under federal laws.
However, the challengers disagree, asserting that a weapon is not a machine gun unless the shooter must do more than a single trigger pull to fire multiple shots. They cite the regulation, which states that producing a second shot requires the shooter to exert forward pressure on the barrel-shroud or fore-grip while maintaining constant rearward pressure on the trigger finger.