The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the ban on bump stocks

The Semiautomatic Bump Stock Case at the Supreme Court: An Argument against the Revocable 2018 Las Vegas Gun-Carrying Supermajority

It’s an argument that plays to the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority and its increasing inclination to roll back agency powers. The case is expected to be decided in the summer.

Those challenging the repeal of the Trump rule argue that the ATTF doesn’t equate bump stocks with machine guns. They argue that the agency has wrongly reinterpreted the statute banning machine guns to include bump stocks, and they maintain that the agency doesn’t have the authority to do that under existing law.

The machine gun ban didn’t draw a distinction between a machine gun and a semiautomatic mod with abump stock, which facilitates rapid fire like a machine gun, as the challengers are making it out to be.

Yet another gun case at the Supreme Court Wednesday. This time the Second Amendment right to bear arms is nowhere in sight. Rather, the question is the legality of a federal regulation banning devices that modify semiautomatic weapons to speed the firing mechanism.

The regulation was not created by the Biden administration. It was created by President Trump in 2018 after a single gunman in Las Vegas, using multiple guns modified by so-called bump stock devices, killed 60 people and wounded 400 more — all in the space of 11 minutes.

Actually, it wasn’t a machine gun. The shooter was armed with 14 semiautomatic weapons, modified with bump stocks to generate rapid fire. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was almost immediately ordered to ban the sale and possession of the devices, after the carnage was so terrible that it almost resulted in a ban on legal semi-automatic guns.

Machine guns were developed at the end of the 1800s for use as military weapons in battle. But in the late 1920s and early 1930s gangsters began using them for their criminal activities, often terrorizing the streets. Congress responded by enacting the National Firearms Act in 1934 banning machine guns.

Why do bump stocks matter but we shouldn’t regulate them? Justice Alito argues that “bumps” can preserve the character of a weapon

The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a conservative group that is challenging the regulation of bump stocks, believes that there is no change to the character of a weapon.

“Whether or not there is a bump stock attached to that semi-automatic weapon, a bump stock does not change the way that trigger operates,” he says. “The trigger has to be pulled for each time the trigger moves… the trigger resets between each shot.”

In 2018, the federal government banned bump stocks for that reason, but gun enthusiasts have challenged the regulation in court, contending that only Congress has the power to enact such a ban.

Justice Samuel Alito, seeking to rescue Mitchell, posed this question: “Can you imagine a legislator thinking we should ban machine guns but we should not ban bump stocks? Is there any reason why a legislator might reach that judgment?”

Justice Clarence Thomas made a similar point to Mitchell, asking, “Why don’t you simply then look backwards and say that the nature of the firing mechanism has changed; thus, the nature of the trigger has changed?”

Mitchell said that the rate of fire has changed. “And it’s still one shot per function of the trigger, even though the shots are coming out of the barrel a lot faster than they were before.”

Mitchell replied yes. People with disabilities and people with arthritis in their fingers can use bumped stocks to help with their dexterity.

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