The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up a challenge to the federal ban on bump stocks— devices that can be attached to semi-automatic weapons to make them shoot almost as fast as automatics.
Bump stocks were banned in 2018 under the National Firearms Act during the Trump Administration.
The ban came in response to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history: in 2017 Stephen Paddock opened fire, using bump stocks, on an outdoor music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 58 people and wounding at least 413 in rapid succession. The 64-year-old gunman then shot and killed himself before police could get to him.
On Friday, the Court agreed to decide whether the Trump Administration acted lawfully in enacting the ban, which the Biden Administration, in briefs to the Court, urged the Justices to uphold.
The case before the Supreme Court, Garland v Cargill, falls under the question of Executive power rather than the Second Amendment. Following the massacre in Vegas, the Department of Justice had initially said that the Executive branch did not have authority to ban bump stocks without Congressional action, though the DOJ eventually changed course on that view.
Those planning to challenge the ban before the Court have asserted that it was not authorized by federal laws that largely ban machine guns.
But Biden Administration lawyers counter in their briefs that bump stocks may be regulated under two decades-old laws:
The National Firearms Act of 1934 defined a machine gun as “any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” The Gun Control Act of 1968 expanded the definition to include parts that can be added or adapted to convert a weapon into a machine gun.
During the Supreme Court’s previous term, which ended in June, the Justices had declined to consider a lawsuit seeking to overturn a 10th Circuit court’s decision banning bump stocks.