US top court rejects federal ban on gun ‘bump stocks’

Supreme Court rules prohibition on device that increases the firing rate of semi-automatic weapons is unlawful.

A bump fire stock attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate [File: George Frey/Reuters]Published On 14 Jun 202414 Jun 2024

The United States Supreme Court declared a federal ban on “bump stock” devices that enable semiautomatic weapons to fire rapidly unlawful, rejecting yet another firearms restriction.

In a six-to-three ruling on Friday, the justices upheld a lower court’s decision siding with a gun shop owner and gun-rights advocate who challenged the ban by claiming a US agency improperly interpreted a federal law prohibiting machineguns as extending to bump stocks.

Keep reading

list of 4 itemsend of list

The conservative justices were in the majority, with the liberal justices dissenting.

The rule was imposed in 2019 by the administration of former President Donald Trump after the devices were used during a 2017 mass shooting that killed 58 people at a Las Vegas country music festival.

President Joe Biden cited the 2017 incident decrying the top court’s decision.

“Today’s decision strikes down an important gun safety regulation. Americans should not have to live in fear of this mass devastation,” Biden said in a statement.

“We know thoughts and prayers are not enough. I call on Congress to ban bump stocks, pass an assault weapon ban, and take additional action to save lives – send me a bill and I will sign it immediately.”

For years, the US has suffered from major gun violence problems, including mass shootings. The country has seen 251 mass shootings so far this year, according to the website Gun Violence Archive. Gun attacks killed 18,854 people in the United States last year.

Still, conservative Republicans often oppose government restriction on access to firearms, arguing that owning guns is a legal right enshrined in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said after Friday’s ruling, “The court has spoken and their decision should be respected.”

Leavitt called the former president, who is challenging Biden in the presidential elections in November, a “fierce defender” of gun rights.

The case centred on how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a US Department of Justice agency, interpreted a federal law, which defined machineguns as weapons that can “automatically” fire more than one shot “by a single function of the trigger”.

“We hold that a semi-automatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a ‘machine gun’ because it cannot fire more than one shot ‘by a single function of the trigger’,” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.

“And, even if it could, it would not do so ‘automatically.’ ATF, therefore, exceeded its statutory authority by issuing a rule that classifies bump stocks as machine guns.”

Federal law prohibits the sale or possession of machineguns, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Bump stocks use a semi-automatic’s recoil to allow it to slide back and forth while “bumping” the shooter’s trigger finger, resulting in rapid fire. Federal officials said the rule was needed to protect public safety in a nation facing persistent firearms violence.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters