Supreme Court Strikes Down Bump Stock Ban in Landmark Ruling Favoring Michael Cargill

June 14, 2024
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on bump stocks, ruling in favor of Michael Cargill, a Texas gun store owner who challenged the 2018 regulation.

The Court’s decision, which marks a significant victory for gun owners, underscores the ongoing debate over firearm accessories and Second Amendment rights.

The ruling in Garland v. Cargill nullifies the Trump administration’s regulation that classified bump stocks as machine guns under the National Firearms Act (NFA). This regulation was introduced following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, where the shooter used bump stocks to fire rapidly, resulting in 58 deaths and over 500 injuries.

The Ruling
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, stated that bump stocks do not transform semi-automatic rifles into machine guns because they do not allow the firearm to fire more than one shot per trigger pull automatically.

Thomas emphasized that a bump stock merely facilitates rapid trigger activation by utilizing the firearm’s recoil but does not alter the fundamental mechanics of the trigger itself.

“A semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock does not fire more than one shot ‘by a single function of the trigger,'” Thomas wrote. “Each shot requires a separate trigger function, and therefore, bump stocks cannot be classified as machine guns under the NFA.”

The Dissent
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, dissented, arguing that the majority’s interpretation undermines the legislative intent to regulate firearms that can simulate automatic fire. Sotomayor stressed that bump stocks effectively enable rapid fire akin to that of machine guns, posing significant public safety risks.

“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,” Sotomayor wrote. “A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires ‘automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.’ Because I, like Congress, call that a machine gun, I respectfully dissent.”

Impact on Forced Reset Triggers (FRT) and Pistol Braces
This ruling has broader implications for other firearm accessory regulations, notably the forced reset trigger (FRT) ban.

Texas Gun Rights (TXGR) organization has an ongoing lawsuit against the ATF over the FRT ban. The Fifth Circuit previously granted TXGR an injunction, protecting its members from enforcement of this ban.

In a related case, Mock v. Garland, the Fifth Circuit vacated the ATF’s pistol brace rule, which classified pistols equipped with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles subject to NFA regulation.

The court ruled that the ATF exceeded its authority, aligning with the Supreme Court’s stance on bump stocks.

TXGR President Chris McNutt hailed these decisions as monumental victories for gun rights advocates. “These rulings reinforce that the ATF cannot arbitrarily redefine what constitutes a machine gun or short-barreled rifle,” McNutt said. “We will continue to fight against overreaching gun control measures in Washington, Austin, and in the courtroom.”

The Bruen Decision’s Influence
The Supreme Court’s recent decisions have been influenced by the 2022 Bruen decision, which emphasized that firearm regulations must align with the historical understanding of the Second Amendment. The Bruen ruling has set a precedent for challenging modern gun control measures that lack historical analogues.

These legal victories for gun owners signal a shift towards stricter scrutiny of federal firearm regulations. Second Amendment advocates will continue leveraging these rulings to challenge other restrictive measures, potentially reshaping the landscape of gun control in the United States.

Texas Gun Rights is actively raising funds to support their legal battles against federal and state-level gun control measures. “We need continued support to ensure that our constitutional rights are upheld,” McNutt urged. “Your donations help us mobilize gun owners and keep fighting for our freedoms.”

This Supreme Court ruling not only affirms the legality of bump stocks but also strengthens the foundation for future challenges to gun control laws, emphasizing the importance of historical context in interpreting the Second Amendment.

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