Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban On Bump Stocks For Guns

Congress Debates Sale Of Bump Stock Devices After Las Vegas Mass Shooting

Photo: George Frey / Getty Images News / Getty Images

The Supreme Court has invalidated a federal ban on bump stocks, devices that increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons. The ruling, delivered on Friday (June 14), found that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) exceeded its authority when it issued the ban in 2018. The decision was split along ideological lines, with a 6-3 majority.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, stated that a semi-automatic rifle equipped with a bump stock does not qualify as an illegal machine gun as it does not allow the weapon to fire more than one shot with a single trigger pull.

"A bump stock merely reduces the amount of time that elapses between separate 'functions' of the trigger," Thomas wrote.

"A bump stock does not convert a semi-automatic rifle into a machinegun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does," Thomas added.

The ban was enacted following the 2017 mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas, the deadliest in U.S. history. The shooter used semi-automatic weapons outfitted with bump stocks, enabling him to fire up to 1,000 rounds of ammunition in 11 minutes.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor stressed that a rifle equipped with a bump stock can fire at a rate of 400 to 800 rounds per minute. She warned that the ruling will have "deadly consequences" by hampering the government's efforts to keep machine guns from gunmen like the Las Vegas shooter (

The case, known as Garland v. Cargill, was brought by a Texas gun shop owner who challenged the ban, arguing the Justice Department wrongly classified the accessories as illegal machine guns. The new ruling unwinds one of the few actions the federal government has taken in recent years to combat gun violence.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content