The Supreme Court declined to hear two challenges to the federal prohibition on bump stocks: devices that make semiautomatic rifles more like machine guns, avoiding a chance to hear a gun case a second time.
While gun rights supporters oppose the ban, the lawsuit’s legal argument was not about the Second Amendment but whether the Trump administration exceeded its jurisdiction under the 1986 legislation. In that way, the case may have had far-reaching repercussions for government agencies’ decisions on various other matters.
As a result of the Las Vegas mass shooting, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives authorized the ban in response to the Las Vegas mass shooting. According to a revised tally of the fatalities in 2020, a retired postal worker on the 32nd level of a hotel killed 60 people.
Bump Stocks are accessories that allow semiautomatic rifles to fire in continuous, fast bursts. Bump stocks function by utilizing the recoil energy of a handgun to move it back and forth against a pressed trigger, allowing the rifle to continue shooting without the shooter having to pull the trigger again. It converts semiautomatic weapons, such as assault rifles modeled after the AR-15, into fully automatic machine guns, which Congress severely prohibited in 1986.
As per the 1986 statute, a machine gun is a weapon that can fire more than one shot simultaneously. Because of their usage by organized crime, such weapons have been strictly restricted since the 1930s. Following the Las Vegas incident, the ATF construed the term machine weapons under the 1986 legislation to include bump stocks.
Background: Following the Las Vegas tragedy, Trump banned bump stocks.
The sale or possession of the devices was prohibited under the re-interpretation of the 1986 legislation. Bump stock owners had 90 days to be destroyed the bump stock or surrender it to the BATFE, a/k/a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
As a result of existing gun-control laws, the Justice Department initially determined that the executive branch could not ban bump stocks on its own, so Congress would be required to act to limit legal access to the devices. It would then be necessary for Congress to pass new gun-control legislation to limit legal access to the devices — a politically difficult process.
However, President Trump directed the department to find a way to prohibit the devices after the Broward County shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. That’s when the re-interpretation started.
The current dispute calls into question the power authorities’ had to adopt regulations when the legislation on which such rules are based is ambiguous. Conservatives have long attempted to limit agency authority, and their case appears to be gaining headway with the Supreme Court.
A couple of cases involving bump stocks were waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court. In Aposhian v. Garland, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver affirmed the restriction. In Gun Owners of America v. Garland, the Cincinnati-based United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously affirmed the legislation.
In June, the Supreme Court declared in a significant gun ruling that a New York law that made it more difficult for state residents to carry firearms in public violated the Second Amendment. The decision’s 6-3 majority also endorsed a new legal norm that places a higher focus on the historical study of gun legislation, potentially making it more difficult for gun control proponents to defend gun laws that are not tied to the country’s history or traditions.