Supreme Court Will Review Federal Bump Stock Ban

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The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a case challenging the federal ban on bump stocks.

The Fifth Circuit struck down the ATF’s rule earlier this year in Garland v. Cargill. The Supreme Court granted the government’s appeal of the ruling in a brief order.

The ATF’s bump stock rule was proposed by the Trump administration in the aftermath of the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert, which killed 58 and wounded over 500.

“In defining the term machinegun, Congress referred to the mechanism by which the gun’s trigger causes bullets to be fired,” the Fifth Circuit majority found in January. “Policy judgments aside, we are bound to apply that mechanical definition. And applying that definition to a semi-automatic rifle equipped with a non-mechanical bump stock, we conclude that such a weapon is not a machinegun for purposes of the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act.”

The Sixth Circuit also struck down the rule in a separate case in April. (RELATED: The Supreme Court Is Taking Up Another Major Second Amendment Case. Here’s What You Need To Know)

The Supreme Court previously declined to block the rule in 2019 and rejected two appeals by gun owners seeking to reverse it in 2022. The appeals court rulings this year striking down the rule created a circuit split.

George Mason University Assistant Professor of Law Robert Leider told the Daily Caller News Foundation in October that the case centers on the intersection of administrative and criminal law, rather than the Second Amendment.

“So the question at bottom is whether the agency can resolve the ambiguity in a way that expands the scope of the statute or in a way that is favorable to the government in a criminal prosecution and whether courts have to confirm it,” Leider said.

“NCLA is pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear our challenge to ATF’s unlawful expansion of the statutory definition of a ‘machinegun,'” New Civil Liberties Alliance Senior Litigation Counsel Richard Samp said in a statement.

NCLA President and General Counsel Mark Chenoweth noted this is “not a case about gun rights.”

“It is a case about administrative power,” Chenoweth said. “Congress never gave ATF the power to rewrite federal criminal statutes pertaining to machine guns—nor could it. Writing federal criminal laws is the sole preserve of Congress, and the Trump and Biden Administrations committed grievous constitutional error by trying to ban bump stocks without involving Congress.”

The Supreme Court is slated to hear another case on Tuesday that challenges the federal law prohibiting individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms.

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