U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to decide whether ATF can prohibit bump stocks under law banning machine guns

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Bump stock on an AR-15 rifle

A salesman displays a bump stock installed on an AR-15 rifle in 2017, before the device was banned by the Trump administration. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can prohibit bump stocks under a law banning machine guns and parts intended to convert weapons into machine guns.

At issue is whether bump stocks can be banned under the National Firearms Act because they can convert rifles into weapons that rapidly fire more than one shot, according to the cert petition. Among the publications with coverage are Law360, the New York Times, SCOTUSblog and Reuters.

Bump stocks use a semi-automatic gun’s recoil “to quickly re-engage the trigger after firing,” according to a January decision by the en banc 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The New Orleans-based appeals court had struck down the ATF rule.

The Trump administration had banned bump stocks after a Las Vegas gunman killed 58 people at a country music festival in October 2017. Some of the gunman’s weapons were fitted with bump stocks.

The National Firearms Act defines banned machine guns as weapons that shoot or that can be restored to shoot “automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” The law also covers parts designed and intended to convert a weapon into a machine gun.

The plaintiff in the case is Texas gun shop owner and firearms instructor Michael Cargill. He is represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, which is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the 5th U.S. Circuit’s en banc ruling, according to a press release.

The 5th Circuit decision is in accord with a subsequent ruling by the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and 10th Circuit at Denver have rejected challenges to the ATF rule, according to the press release.

The case is Garland v. Cargill.

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