Supreme Court Strikes Down Trump-Era Bump Stocks Ban

The Supreme Court found that the ATF’s reinterpretation of the law to include bump stocks was not supported by the statute, emphasizing that bump stocks do not “alter the basic mechanics of firing.

Court Rules ATF’s Reinterpretation of Machine Gun Definition Unconstitutional

Survivors of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting and families of the victims expressed alarm as the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, invalidated the Trump-era ban on bump stocks. The ruling, which highlighted the limitations of regulatory agencies in redefining existing laws, has significant implications for future gun control measures. Justice Clarence Thomas, authoring the majority opinion, emphasized that bump stocks do not alter the fundamental mechanics of semi-automatic rifles. Justice Samuel Alito, concurring with the opinion, noted that Congress retains the authority to legislate changes to firearm regulations.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Trump-Era Bump Stock Ban
Las Vegas Mass Shooting Image

Background and Context

Bump stocks are devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire at a rate similar to that of automatic weapons. Following the tragic mass shooting at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in 2017, where the gunman used bump stocks to fire over 1,000 bullets in 11 minutes, the ATF reclassified bump stocks as machine guns. This reclassification, part of a broader push for stricter gun control measures, made the possession, sale, or use of bump stocks illegal.

Semi Automatic Rifle - Supreme Court Strikes Down Trump-Era Bump Stocks Ban
Semi Automatic Rifle

The ruling in Garland v. Cargill centered around whether bump stocks should be classified as machine guns under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The Supreme Court found that the ATF’s reinterpretation of the law to include bump stocks was not supported by the statute, emphasizing that bump stocks do not “alter the basic mechanics of firing.”

Reaction from Survivors and Families

The decision has been met with alarm and disappointment from survivors of the Las Vegas shooting and the families of the victims. Craig Link, whose brother Victor Link was killed in the attack, expressed his dismay at the ruling. “I’m pro-gun, but I don’t believe anyone should have an automatic weapon in a civilized world. It’s a bomb waiting to go off,” he said. Craig, who was supposed to be at the concert with his brother, has been haunted by thoughts of what might have been.

Shawna Bartlett, who was in the front row when the shooting began and helped her wounded friend to safety, shared similar sentiments. The memories of the chaos and the horror of that night have left lasting scars on the survivors and their families.

Political Reactions

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib voiced strong criticism, stating, “The Supreme Court is facing a corruption crisis. We need to expand the Supreme Court, enact term limits on Supreme Court Justices, enforce a binding code of ethics, and expedite impeachment proceedings. Thomas and Alito need to be impeached and removed from the bench.

President Joe Biden also condemned the ruling, emphasizing the need for legislative action. In a press release issued by the White House, he said, “Today’s Supreme Court decision strikes down an important gun safety regulation. We know thoughts and prayers are not enough. I call on Congress to ban bump stocks, pass an assault weapon ban, and take action to save lives – send me a bill and I will sign it immediately.”

The White House statement further highlighted the actions taken by the Biden administration to address gun violence, including the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the establishment of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. The statement underscored the administration’s commitment to continuing efforts to combat gun violence despite the Supreme Court’s decision.

Implications of the Ruling

The Supreme Court’s decision has significant implications for gun control and regulatory practices in the United States. By striking down the ATF’s bump stock ban, the Court has emphasized the need for clear and precise legislative action to address emerging technologies and their potential threats to public safety.

Gun rights advocates view the ruling as a victory that reaffirms the principle of clear statutory interpretation and limits regulatory overreach. However, for those advocating for stricter gun control, the decision represents a setback in efforts to curb the availability of devices that can increase the lethality of firearms.


The USA Supreme Court’s ruling on the bump stock ban highlights the complex interplay between legislative intent, regulatory authority, and public safety. As the nation continues to grapple with debates over gun control, this decision underscores the importance of legislative clarity and the limitations of regulatory agencies in interpreting laws.

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