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The Supreme Court’s Reckless Bump Stocks Decision

Bump stocks turn regular guns into automatic weapons, and the Supreme Court just rolled back the ATF rule banning them.

    Today, the Supreme Court struck down a federal rule banning bump stocks in Garland v. Cargill

    Bump stocks are dangerous accessories that convert semiautomatic weapons into fully automatic guns that can fire hundreds of rounds per minute. After bump stocks were used to murder 60 people and injure hundreds more at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas in 2017—the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history—the ATF issued a rule categorizing bump stocks as machine guns and therefore banning their ownership. 

    Now, in a 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court has recklessly undone this lifesaving ban and allowed automatic weapons back into civilian life. In his decision, Justice Thomas uses a narrow, technical reading to reach his conclusion that bump stocks don’t cause the type of rapid fire that federal law defines as a machine gun, in spite of their ability to kill scores of people in mere seconds.   

    GIFFORDS Executive Director Emma Brown went on MSNBC immediately after the ruling to explain just how dangerous this decision is:

    Our attorneys filed an amicus brief in Cargill arguing in favor of the ATF’s rule banning bump stocks, which Justice Sotomayor referenced twice in her dissenting opinion. She reinforced the commonsense position that bump stocks act like automatic weapons and therefore must be regulated like automatic weapons, writing, “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.” 

    Additionally, as our team delved deeper into the opinion, we discovered that the majority opinion propped its argument up with information and drawings from the Firearm Policy Coalition—an extremist gun rights organization with alarming rhetoric. 

    While this is a reckless decision from a right-wing court beholden to the gun lobby, it’s not the final word on bump stocks. Congress has the power to take immediate action to ban bump stocks in order to keep what are effectively machine guns off our streets. Without action, lives are at risk.


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