SCOTUS Reverses Trump Era Regulation


The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a federal ban on bump stocks approved by former President Donald Trump, the latest opinion from the conservative court rolling back firearm regulations.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion for a 6-3 court. The court’s liberal wing, led by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, dissented.

Trump had pushed for the ban in response to a 2017 mass shooting that killed 58 people at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas. Bump stocks allow a shooter to convert a semi-automatic rifle into a weapon that can fire at a rate of hundreds of rounds a minute.

“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 in his opinion. “Even with a bump stock, a semiautomatic rifle will fire only one shot for every ‘function of the trigger.’”

The ban was challenged by a Texas gun store owner, Michael Cargill, who purchased two of the devices in 2018, turned them over to the government after the prohibition was implemented and then promptly sued to get them back. The federal rule made possession of a bump stock a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Though the case didn’t rely on the Second Amendment, it did put the debate about guns back on the court’s docket in one of the most closely watched controversies this year. In that sense, the decision was the latest from the high court to side with gun rights groups.

President Joe Biden said in a statement later Friday that the ruling “strikes down an important gun safety regulation. Americans should not have to live in fear of this mass devastation.”

Sotomayor reads dissent from the bench

Sotomayor wrote in a scathing dissent joined by the court’s other two liberal justices that the majority’s ruling “will have deadly consequences.”

The decision, she wrote, “hamstrings the Government’s efforts to keep machineguns from gunmen like the Las Vegas shooter.”

In a move that underscored Sotomayor’s discontent with the court’s ruling, the justice took the rare step of reading her dissent from the bench on Friday.

“When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires ‘automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.’ Because I, like Congress, call that a machinegun, I respectfully dissent.”

Recent Comments