Supreme Court upholds bump stock ban in big win for gun safety advocates

Gun rights groups had challenged the federal regulation.

October 3, 2022, 2:30 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected two appeals by gun owners seeking to overturn the federal government's ban on the sale of bump stocks -- devices that allow a semi-automatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger.

The court did not elaborate on its decision, which is a significant victory for gun safety advocates and government efforts to regulate dangerous weapons. The rejected cases are Aphosian v. Garland, and Gun Owners of America v. Garland.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 3, 2021, file photo, demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
In this Nov. 3, 2021, file photo, demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Jose Luis Magana/AP, FILE

After the Las Vegas shooting massacre in 2017, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revised federal regulations to define bump stocks as machine guns under a 1986 law that bans machine guns. This move upheld a promise by then-President Donald Trump to ban the devices following the event in which a shooter who used rifles equipped with bump stocks opened fire from his hotel room onto a crowd of outdoor concertgoers, killing 58 people.

Several gun rights groups challenged the ban over what they argued was mischaracterization of the devices and argued that the ATF lacked the authority under the National Firearms Act to reclassify bump stocks as machine guns, therein prohibiting their use. In their appeal, the groups did not argue that the bump stock ban would limit the perimeters of the Second Amendment.

"This decision sets a horrible and dangerous precedent, one that will allow the ATF to further arbitrarily regulate various firearms. This very same precedent is already being abused by Joe Biden to ban millions of lawfully purchased pistols even without an ACT of Congress!" Gun Owners of America Tweeted in a statement.

The decision by a conservative-majority court comes just after a major June ruling that expanded gun rights by ruling that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments allow an individual to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense outside the home.

The ban makes possession of a bump stock a felony subject to up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. More than 500,000 Americans who previously purchased a bump stock will be required to turn it in or destroy it, gun advocacy groups have said.