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US Supreme Court Strikes Down Trump-Era Ban On Gun ‘Bump Stocks’

A U.S. federal court has ruled that a ban on bump stocks put in place by the Trump administration is unconstitutional.

Washington:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a ban on bump stocks – devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to be fired like machine guns – put in place by the administration of former President Donald Trump is unconstitutional.

The incident stems from the worst mass shooting in US history in October 2017, when a man opened fire on a crowd attending an outdoor music concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and wounding about 500.

Most of his .22 guns were equipped with bump stocks and could fire as many as nine rounds per second.

The Supreme Court, divided ideologically, ruled with six conservative justices to three in favor that the Trump administration did not follow the law when it expanded the ban on machine guns to include bump stocks after the mass shootings.

“This case asks whether a bump stock — an attachment to a semi-automatic rifle that enables the shooter to pull the trigger more quickly (and thus achieve a higher rate of fire) — transforms the rifle into a ‘machine gun,'” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion.

“We determine that this is not the case.”

The National Rifle Association welcomed the ruling, saying it “appropriately limits the executive branch’s role to that of enforcing, not making, the law.”

But the ruling drew outrage from gun control activists and Democrats, and President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign accused the Supreme Court of prioritizing the gun lobby over the “safety of children.”

“Weapons of war have no place on American streets, but Trump’s Supreme Court justices have decided that the gun lobby is more important than the safety of our children and communities,” campaign spokesman Michael Tyler said in a statement.

House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries called the ruling “dangerous, devastating and deeply disturbing.”

“The majority of justices today sided with the gun lobby rather than the safety of the American people,” Esther Sanchez Gomez of the gun control group Giffords wrote on X, pointing to polls that show more than eight in 10 Americans support gun control.

“This is a shameful decision.”

The government first addressed the issue in 2018, when the Justice Department under the Trump administration declared removable devices illegal after another mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead.

In December of that year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) revised its regulations regarding bump stocks, declaring them to fall under the anti-machine gun law passed by Congress in 1934.

– “Quacks like a duck” –

Brian Fletcher, deputy attorney general of President Joe Biden’s Justice Department, told the court during oral arguments in February that bump stocks “make it possible to empty a 100-round magazine, like the one used in the Las Vegas shooting, in about 10 seconds.”

“These weapons are exactly what Congress was trying to ban when it enacted the machine gun ban,” Fletcher said.

But lawyers for Texas gun dealer Michael Cargill challenged the move, arguing that the ATF overstepped its authority by classifying bump stocks in the same category as machine guns.

Oral arguments focused on the technical definition of a machine gun in a 1934 law enacted during Prohibition, long before bump stocks were invented.

Thomas said the law strictly defines a machine gun as a weapon “capable of automatically firing multiple shots with a single pull of the trigger.”

But the ruling prompted a strong dissent from liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“Today, the Supreme Court put bump stocks back into civilian hands. In doing so, the Court ignored Congress’ definition of ‘machine gun,’ adopted a definition that is inconsistent with the ordinary meaning of the statutory text and unsupported by context or purpose,” she wrote.

“If I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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