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Supreme Court says bump stocks don’t turn firearms into machineguns

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The U.S. Supreme Court struck down on Friday a federal rule that banned bump stocks stating that it did not transform a firearm into an automatic weapon. The high court ruled 6-3.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion for the majority and said the case came down to whether a bump stock “transforms a semiautomatic rifle into a ‘machinegun.’”

“A bump stock does not convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does,” Thomas wrote. “Even with a bump stock, a semiautomatic rifle will fire only one shot for every ‘function of the trigger.’”

The National Rifle Association stated that the ruling stopped federal agencies from overextending their authority.

“The Supreme Court has properly restrained executive branch agencies to their role of enforcing, and not making, the law,” Randy Kozuch, executive director of the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action, posted on X. “This decision will be pivotal to NRA’s future challenges of ATF regulations.”

The bump stock ban was triggered by the deadliest mass shooting by one person in U.S. history. On Oct. 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock killed 60 people and injured more than 400 when he opened fire on a Las Vegas crowd. Paddock used a bump stock.

“This ruling fails the American people,” U.S. Congressman Andy Kim, D-New Jersey, posted on X. “60 lives were stolen, hundreds injured, at the Vegas Route 91 festival in just over 10 minutes with the help of bump stocks. I voted to outlaw them to stop their carnage. Today’s ruling makes it critical Congress pass a ban NOW to save lives.”

President Donald Trump issued a memo in February 2018 directing the Attorney General “dedicate all available resources” to propose a rule to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced Dec. 18, 2018, that the Department of Justice amended a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regulation that clarified that bump stocks fall within the definition of a “machine gun” under federal law. The Department of Justice said that bump stocks allow a shooter of a semiautomatic weapon “to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.” The DOJ stated that people who had bump stocks had to get rid of them by March 26, 2019.

Michael Cargill, the plaintiff in the case, surrendered his two bump stocks and then filed a lawsuit.

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