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U.S. Supreme Court to Review Legality of Bump Stock Ban
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High-Stakes Gun Rights Battle Heats Up

The United States Supreme Court is once again delving into the contentious issue of gun rights, as it has agreed to deliberate on the legality of the federal ban on “bump stock” devices, which allow semiautomatic weapons to mimic the firing rate of machine guns. This ban was implemented under the former President, Donald Trump, and it has triggered a legal battle that could have far-reaching implications for gun control laws in the country.

The Case: Biden Administration vs. Gun Rights Advocate

  
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The Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal brought forth by the Biden administration against a lower court’s decision favoring Michael Cargill, a gun shop owner and a vocal advocate for gun rights hailing from Austin, Texas. Cargill challenged the bump stock ban, which was put in place following the tragic 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Interpreting the Law: ATF in the Spotlight

At the heart of this case is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a branch of the U.S. Justice Department, and its interpretation of the law about the regulation of machine guns. The ban on bump stocks was enacted in 2019, reversing a previous stance by the agency. Federal law strictly prohibits the sale or possession of machine guns, with potential penalties of up to 10 years in prison. These machine guns are defined under the 1934 National Firearms Act as weapons capable of firing more than one shot automatically with a single trigger pull.

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The Bump Stock Controversy



Bump stocks work by harnessing the recoil of a semiautomatic firearm to slide back and forth, simulating a rapid rate of fire through a “bumping” motion against the shooter’s trigger finger. While the Supreme Court has previously turned away certain challenges to the bump stock prohibition, this case reopens the debate on the devices’ legality.

Conservative Majority and Gun Rights Expansion

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has consistently expanded gun rights in the United States through significant rulings since 2008. In 2022, they recognized that individuals have a constitutional right to carry handguns in public for self-defense, and they adopted a rigorous test for evaluating the legality of gun regulations.

Upcoming Gun Rights Case

In a related matter, the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider another gun rights case concerning the upholding of a federal law that restricts individuals with domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms.

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The Catalyst: The Las Vegas Tragedy

The ban on bump stocks came into effect following a horrific incident in 2017 when a gunman used firearms equipped with bump stocks in a shooting spree at a country music festival in Las Vegas. This tragic event resulted in 58 deaths and hundreds of injuries, prompting Trump’s administration to take action and prohibit these devices. Michael Cargill’s lawsuit challenged the rule, ultimately requiring him to surrender his two bump stocks.

Legal Representation and Opinions

Richard Samp, an attorney from the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a conservative legal group, represented Cargill and commended the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case. He pointed out that the ATF had previously acknowledged that bump stocks and semiautomatic weapons were not classified as ‘machineguns.’ The sudden reversal, according to Samp, seemed to prioritize political expediency over the rule of law.

Awaiting the U.S. Justice Department’s Response

As of now, the U.S. Justice Department has not provided an official comment on this matter.

5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Decision

In January, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sided with Cargill in a divided opinion, concluding that the law did not unambiguously favor the ATF’s interpretation of the statute. The Justice Department, in response, contended that this decision posed a significant threat to public safety, as bump stocks enable a shooter to discharge hundreds of rounds per minute with a single pull of the trigger. They argued that rifles modified with bump stocks are extremely dangerous, akin to machine guns.

Divided Opinions on Gun Control

The United States remains deeply divided when it comes to addressing ongoing issues of gun violence, with President Biden calling it a “national embarrassment.” It’s crucial to note that this legal battle is not centered on whether the ban violates the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.

Additional Case: NRA vs. New York State Official

In another development, the Supreme Court has also decided to take on a case that revolves around the National Rifle Association (NRA). This case aims to determine if a New York state official obstructed the NRA’s exercise of free speech rights protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by pressuring banks and insurers to refrain from engaging in business with this influential gun rights group.

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