[UPDATED 2] SCOTUS Tosses Bump Stock Ban

See updates below.

Big news this morning.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Bump Stock Ban
In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court held that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) exceeded its authority when it issued a rule classifying firearms equipped with bump stocks as machine guns. The case, Garland v. Cargill, challenged the ban enacted following the 2017 Las Vegas concert mass shooting, which it implemented by interpreting a federal law restricting the transfer or possession of machine guns to include bump stocks.

It looks like Clarence Thomas wrote the majority decision, so I’ve got some reading to do. I always enjoy Thomas’ decisions.

It looks like this is primarily based on violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. I tried to tell the ATF just that in my NPRM comments.

I expect I’ll have more on this after I finish reading the decision.

UPDATE: Yes, the ATF violated the APA by exceeding its authority.

Held: ATF exceeded its statutory authority by issuing a Rule that classifies a bump stock as a “machinegun” under §5845(b).

But, Thomas didn’t stop there.

A semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock does not fire more than one shot “by a single function of the trigger.” The phrase “function of the trigger” refers to the mode of action by which the trigger activates the firing mechanism.

A clear, unequivocal, specific ruling that, not only did they exceed their authority, but that bump stocks do not turn firearms into machineguns. As I told them.

In fact, one might almost suspect that Justice Thomas read my NPRM comments. Or maybe my blog.

ATF argues that a shooter using a bump stock must pull the trigger only one time to initiate a bump-firing sequence of multiple shots. This initial trigger pull sets off a sequence—fire, recoil, bump, fire—that allows the weapon to continue firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter. This argument rests on the mistaken premise that there is a difference between the shooter flexing his finger to pull the trigger and pushing the firearm forward to bump the trigger against his stationary trigger.

The law address function of the trigger, not function of the finger. And the off-arm movement needed to make the finger re-engage the trigger is volitional, not an “automatic” function of the firearm.

Thomas included picture for idiots. But apparently he should have drawn them in crayon for the real morons on the bench.

The dimwitted dissenting Justices — Kagan, Sotomayer, Jackson; go figure — were reduced to this: The ATF says they’re machineguns, therefore…

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. A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires “automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

Those are the words of overly-emotive panty-pissers incapable of logic.

Added: This decision doesn’t specifically mention “Cheveron deference” (the idea that courts should defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of a law over that of the challenger), but they certainly did not give the ATF deference here. So that’s a good precedent for gun owners challenging other ATF abuses.

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2A advocate, writer, firearms policy & law analyst, general observer of pre-apocalyptic American life.

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