Supreme Court Overturns Bump Stock Ban

posted on June 14, 2024

In a 6-3 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a standing ban on bump stocks is unlawful. In a majority opinion delivered by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, the court ruled that a “...semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a ‘machinegun’ because it does not fire more than one shot ‘by a single function of the trigger.’”

“The Supreme Court has properly restrained executive branch agencies to their role of enforcing, and not making, the law,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch. “This decision will be pivotal to NRA’s future challenges of ATF regulations.”

The National Rifle Association supported the case with an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief in Garland v. Cargill, a case where respondent Michael Cargill had purchased two bump stocks several months before the ATF published a final rule that amended the regulatory definition of “machinegun” to include bump stocks by adding the language: “The term ‘machine gun’ includes bump-stock devices, i.e., devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger by harnessing the recoil energy of the semi-automatic firearm to which it is affixed so that the trigger resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter.”

The final rule determined that owners of bump stocks had to divest themselves of the accessories by the effective date of March 26, 2019. On March 25, 2019, Cargill surrendered his bump stocks to the ATF, and on the same day, he filed suit in the Western District of Texas to challenge the rule. A bench trial ruled in favor of the ATF’s final rule, a judgement affirmed by a three-judge panel United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Following an additional argument, the en banc court reversed and remanded the judgement.

In April 2023, Attorney General Merrick Garland petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, which was granted on November 3. Oral arguments were heard on Feb. 28, 2024.


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