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US Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gun Owners in Bump Stock Case

The United States Supreme Court on 14 June 2024 (Friday) has overturned a ban on bump stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic firearms to fire rapidly, a decision that could have significant implications for gun control in the United States.

The ruling, a 6-3 decision with the court's conservative majority prevailing, invalidates a Trump-era regulation that classified bump stocks as machine guns. The court found that the regulation conflicted with previous interpretations of federal law, arguing that bump stocks, despite their rapid-fire capabilities, do not meet the legal definition of machine guns because each shot still requires a separate trigger pull.

The use of bump stocks gained national attention following the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, where the gunman used assault rifles equipped with bump stocks to fire over 1,000 rounds in just 11 minutes, resulting in numerous casualties and injuries.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, stressed the technical aspects of firearm operation, stating that bump stocks merely enhance the rate of fire, not the fundamental mechanics of the trigger. However, Justice Samuel Alito, in a concurring opinion, acknowledged that Congress retains the power to redefine bump stocks as machine guns through legislation.

This decision reverses federal policy that had previously classified bump stocks as illegal machine guns. The Trump administration had implemented the ban through regulatory changes after the Las Vegas shooting, alleviating pressure on lawmakers to address gun control legislation. The Supreme Court's decision now opens the door for the potential return of bump stocks to the market.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by her liberal colleagues, dissented from the majority decision. She argued that bump stocks significantly contribute to mass shootings, citing the Las Vegas tragedy as an example. Sotomayor expressed frustration that Congress would now need to address the regulatory gap left by the Court's ruling.

The Supreme Court's decision stemmed from a legal challenge initiated by Texas gun shop owner Michael Cargill, represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance. Cargill argued that bump stocks, despite enhancing firing speed, still require user manipulation and thus don't constitute illegal weapons under existing laws.

With an estimated 520,000 bump stocks in circulation at the time of the ban, the Supreme Court's decision is likely to fuel ongoing debates about firearm regulation in the United States. This ruling arrives amidst a broader trend of judicial scrutiny of gun rights, evidenced by recent landmark decisions expanding Second Amendment protections.

The Biden administration, which supported the ban alongside gun control advocates, expressed disappointment with the Court's decision but offered no immediate plans for further action in response.

The court's ruling on bump stocks underscores the intricate complexities surrounding firearm legislation and enforcement. This decision highlights the crucial role judicial interpretation plays in shaping national policies on gun rights and public safety.

Written By: Md.Imran Wahab
, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565 

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