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Supreme Court lifts gun ban by 6-3 vote | The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday lifted a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, the accessories for rapid-fire weapons used in the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history, in a ruling that put firearms back into the nation’s political spotlight.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority found the Trump administration went too far when it reversed course from its predecessors and banned bump stocks, which allow a rate of fire comparable to that of machine guns. The decision came after a gunman in Las Vegas attacked a country music festival with semi-automatic rifles equipped with the accessories.

The gunman fired more than a thousand bullets into the crowd in eleven minutes, causing thousands of people to flee in panic, while hundreds were injured and dozens were killed.

The ruling pushed guns back into the center of the political conversation with an unusual twist as Democrats decried the reversal of action by a Republican administration and many Republicans supported the ruling.

The 6-3 majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, found that the Justice Department was wrong in declaring that bump stocks transformed semi-automatic rifles into illegal machine guns because, he wrote, each rapid succession of depressions still only releases one shot.

The ruling reinforced the limits of executive power, and two justices — conservative Samuel Alito and liberal Sonia Sotomayor — separately emphasized how action in Congress could potentially deliver more lasting policies if there was political will to act in a bipartisan manner to perform.

Originally, imposing a ban through regulation rather than legislation during Donald Trump’s presidency put pressure on Republicans to act after the massacre and another mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The prospects for passing gun restrictions in today’s divided Congress are bleak.

President Joe Biden, who supports gun restrictions, called on Congress to reinstate the ban imposed by his political enemy. Trump’s campaign team, meanwhile, expressed respect for the ruling before quickly moving to endorse it with the National Rifle Association.

As Trump sues gun owners as he runs to regain the presidency, he appears to be downplaying his own administration’s actions on bump stocks. He told NRA members in February that “nothing happened” with guns during his presidency, despite “great pressure.” He told the group that if he is re-elected, “no one will lay a finger on your firearms.”

The 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting was carried out by a high-stakes gambler who committed suicide, leaving his exact motive a mystery. The shooting killed 60 people, including Christiana Duarte, whose family called Friday’s ruling tragic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2kIeqPjZoQ

“The ruling is really just another way of inviting people to another mass shooting,” said Danette Meyers, a family friend and spokesperson. “It’s a shame that they have to experience this again. They are really unhappy.”

The opinion comes after the same conservative supermajority of the Supreme Court made a landmark decision to expand gun rights in 2022. The Supreme Court is also expected to rule in another gun case in the coming weeks, challenging a federal law intended to keep guns away from people under the law. domestic violence restraining orders.

However, the arguments in the bump stock case were less about Second Amendment rights and more about whether the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an agency of the Justice Department, had overstepped its authority.

Bump stocks are accessories that replace the butt of a rifle, the part that rests against the shoulder. Invented in the 2000s, they harness the gun’s recoil energy so that the trigger bounces against the shooter’s stationary finger, allowing the gun to fire at a rate comparable to an automatic weapon.

The Supreme Court majority ruled that the 1934 law against machine guns defined them as weapons that could automatically fire more than one shot by a single function of the trigger. Bump stocks don’t fit that definition because “the trigger still must be released and reactivated to fire each additional shot,” Thomas wrote. He also pointed to more than a decade of ATF findings stating that bump stocks were not automatic weapons.

The plaintiff, Texas gun store owner and military veteran Michael Cargill, applauded the ruling in a video posted online and predicted the case would have ripple effects by hampering other ATF gun restrictions. “I’m glad I stood up and fought,” he said.

In a dissent joined by her liberal colleagues, Sotomayor said bump stocks fit under the law’s ordinary meaning: “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. ,” she wrote. She said the ruling could hamper the ATF and have “deadly consequences.”

ATF Director Steve Dettelbach echoed this sentiment, saying bump stocks “pose an unacceptable risk to public safety.”

The Supreme Court took up the case after division among the lower courts. Under Republican President George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, the ATF decided that bump stocks did not turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns. The agency reversed those decisions at Trump’s insistence. That was after the massacre in Las Vegas and the shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left seventeen people dead.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have their own bans on bump stocks that are not expected to be affected by the ruling, although four state bans may no longer apply to bump stocks because of the ruling, according to the gun control group Everytown.

Cargill was represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a group funded by conservative donors such as the Koch Network. His lawyers acknowledged that bump stocks allow for rapid fire, but argued that they are different because the shooter has to put more effort into getting the gun to fire.

The Biden administration had argued that the effort was minimal and said the ATF came to the right conclusion on bump stocks after conducting a more in-depth investigation following the Las Vegas shooting.

There were about 520,000 bump stocks in circulation when the ban took effect in 2019, forcing people to surrender or destroy them at a combined estimated loss of $100 million, plaintiffs said in court documents.

Information for this article was contributed by Mark Sherman, Lisa Mascaro, Jill Colvin, Mike Catalini, Jim Salter and Jim Vertuno of The Associated Press.

photo The Supreme Court building is seen on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
photo FILE – A bump stock is on display in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on March 15, 2019. The Supreme Court has lifted a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a weapon accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
photo The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington on Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)
photo FILE – A woman sits on a curb at the scene of a shooting outside a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas on Oct. 2, 2017. The Supreme Court lifted a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a firearm accessory used to semi-automatic weapons that can fire rapidly such as machine guns. They were used in the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history. The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration did not follow federal law when it reversed course and banned bump stocks after a gunman in Las Vegas attacked a country music festival with assault rifles in 2017. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
photo FILE – This photo released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Force Investigation Team Report shows the interior of Stephen Paddock’s room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas after a mass shooting. The Supreme Court has lifted a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a weapon accessory that allows semiautomatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns. They were used in the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history. The Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Trump administration did not follow federal law when it reversed course and banned bump stocks after a gunman in Las Vegas attacked a country music festival with assault rifles in 2017. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP, File)
photo The Supreme Court ruled Friday that a rifle equipped with a rapid-fire accessory known as a bump stock is not an illegal machine gun. (AP image)
photo FILE – Police rush to the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017. The Supreme Court has overturned a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a gun accessory allowing semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns. They were used in the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history. The Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Trump administration did not follow federal law when it reversed course and banned bump stocks after a gunman in Las Vegas attacked a country music festival with assault rifles in 2017. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)