Supreme Court Tackles Bump Stock Ban in High-Stakes Case

2nd Amendment – R2KBA Current Events This Week

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The Supreme Court just got a heavy dose of legal debate. Jonathan Mitchell, ex-Texas Solicitor General, stepped up to the plate today to argue in the New Civil Liberties Alliance’s high-profile Garland v. Cargill case.

He’s challenging the ATF’s decision to label bump stocks as illegal machine guns. This move contradicts the federal law defining what a “machinegun” really is.

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit wasn’t buying what ATF was selling and knocked down their ban 13-3. They sided with the long-standing view that bump-stock-equipped firearms aren’t illegal.

Texas gun shop owner and Army vet Michael Cargill, represented by NCLA, brought his A-game to court today. He’s betting on the Supreme Court to echo the Fifth Circuit’s call and keep ATF from slapping the ‘criminal’ tag on innocent Americans.

Here’s the backstory: In 2018, ATF decided that semi-autos with bump stocks are “machineguns,” which are generally a big no-no under federal law. This meant folks like Mr. Cargill had to either destroy or hand over their legally bought bump stocks.

But here’s the twist: Congress’s 1986 machinegun ban didn’t mention bump stocks (they weren’t even invented yet). So, does ATF even have the power to make this call?

Justice Neil Gorsuch threw in his two cents, pointing out that for over a decade, under three administrations, the government didn’t lump bump stocks with machine guns.

SEE ALSO: Bump Stock Creator Speaks to ABC News As Case Goes Before High Court

Then, suddenly, ATF flips the script with their new rule, potentially making up to half a million people felons. And all this without a proper process for people to challenge it.

Fast forward to January 2023, the Fifth Circuit ruled in Cargill v. Garland that only Congress can ban bump stocks. They agreed bump stocks don’t fit the machine gun bill.

This ruling lined up with the Sixth Circuit and the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals. But, the Tenth and D.C. Circuits thought differently, backing ATF’s stance. Now, it’s up to the Supreme Court to iron out these kinks.

The government’s take today? Bump stocks equal machine guns. Their reasoning hinges on the definition of “machine gun” covering any device that causes more than one shot to fire in response to a “single motion of the shooter” or a “single act of the shooter.”

But, NCLA correctly argues, bump stocks don’t tweak a gun’s trigger function. Whether a rifle has a bump stock or not, it still fires just one bullet per trigger pull.

“I’m here today to stop ATF from overstepping its proper authority,” said Michael Cargill, NCLA Client. “ATF’s bump-stock ban turned law-abiding citizens into criminals even though they were compliant with the statute. That’s not right, and the Supreme Court should condemn it once and for all.”

Richard Samp, Senior Litigation Counsel at NCLA, called it a “travesty of justice” for bureaucrats to play lawmaker. It’s Congress’s job to write criminal laws, not theirs, he intimated.

NCLA’s President, Mark Chenoweth, remains hopeful.

“The Justices seemed appropriately focused on the text of the statute during today’s argument, which should bode well for Mr. Cargill’s position,” he said. “A bump stock does not alter the trigger on a semi-automatic weapon, so a bump stock does not turn a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun.”

The Court’s decision is eagerly awaited, with implications far beyond the courtroom. Stay tuned for updates!

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  • jim jundt March 1, 2024, 11:16 am

    The bump stock does not change the operation of the trigger its a piece of plastic and will not make a rifle an automatic weapon.
    Have not and can not figure out how our Government has gotten to the point that they think every day they can take away our rights as used to be free citizens of the united stated. this is a clear case of over reach once again,

  • ardvark March 1, 2024, 7:29 am

    According to the learned scholar judge Jackson, it allows weapons to fire 800 rounds per second! That thinking probably explains why she could not explain the difference between a man and woman during her sham confirmation hearing!

  • Craig Olmsted February 29, 2024, 4:14 am

    On 12/26/2017 the ATF published in the Federal Register “Application of the Definition of Machinegun to “Bump Fire” Stocks and Other Similar Devices”. Which is the first step in a process for people to comment, challenge, and propose changes to the proposed rule.

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