OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in a case involving a federal ban on bump stocks, which are add-on devices that can turn a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic weapon.
The case in question, Garland v. Cargill, is set for later this month. The bump stocks were banned during the Trump administration after a mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, that killed nearly 60 people with weapons that were equipped with the stocks.
Bump stock-equipped weapons are what the Trump administration refers to as “machine guns,” which the general public cannot own without first obtaining a federal license. Grun rights groups filed suit against the federal government in 2018. The highest court in the nation has finally accepted the case.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives implemented a rule requiring owners of bump stocks to either destroy them or turn them over to the organization.
“Specifically, these devices convert an otherwise semiautomatic firearm into a machinegun by functioning as a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that harnesses the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm in a manner that allows the trigger to reset and continue firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter,” a Justice Department rule summary said at the time. “Hence, a semiautomatic firearm to which a bump-stock-type device is attached can produce automatic fire with a single pull of the trigger.”
Gun rights organizations claim that the rule is a violation of the Second Amendment and that it changed terms to broaden the definition of a machine gun.
The Firearms Policy Coalition filed an amicus brief in that case this week, Center Square reported.
“When ATF first considered the legality of bump stocks over twenty years ago, it correctly concluded that they do not qualify as ‘machineguns,’” the brief noted. “Yet in 2018, in the face of acute political pressure, the agency reversed course and adopted a new definition of the term that encompasses the bump stocks at issue. Petitioners’ defense of that newfound interpretation either ignores the statute Congress enacted or seeks to rewrite it.”
In addition, the Supreme Court will also hear a case regarding New York State’s “blacklisting” of the National Rifle Association.
Fox News reported in November that the bump stock challenge involves a firearm accessory added to certain guns, while the NRA case involves a free speech challenge by the organization.
“The high court will hear arguments in the case National Rifle Association of America v. Vullo, which questions whether a government regulator threatening regulated entities with adverse regulatory actions if they do business with a controversial speaker, allegedly because of the government’s hostility to the speaker’s viewpoint, violates the First Amendment,” the outlet reported.
“The former Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), Maria T. Vullo, at the behest of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, allegedly wielded DFS’s regulatory power to financially blacklist the NRA – coercing banks and insurers to cut ties with the association in an effort, the group says, to suppress its speech,” Fox added.
In addition, the NRA suit claimed that Vullo also made “backroom threats” against regulated firms that were coupled with offers of leniency for unrelated violations if the regulated entities agreed to blacklist the gun rights organization.
“This is a historic step forward for the NRA, its millions of members, and all who believe in the freedom of speech,” said now-former NRA CEO & EVP Wayne LaPierre at the time. “The NRA’s fight continues – this time in the highest court in the land. At a time when free speech is under attack as never before, we believe the Supreme Court will send a message to government officials that they cannot use intimidation tactics to silence those with whom they disagree.”