Big 2A Case Goes to Supreme Court

2nd Amendment

( – In a huge legal move for 2nd Amendment rights, the United States Supreme Court has decided to consider the legality of the national prohibition on bump stocks. This decision follows earlier judicial rejections of the rule by the Fifth and Sixth Circuits.

The Fifth Circuit Court’s decision in Garland v. Cargill earlier this year invalidated the ATF’s regulation, which the Trump administration initiated after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting massacre that resulted in 58 deaths and injuries to over 500 individuals.

In a January ruling, the Fifth Circuit majority stated, “In defining the term machinegun, Congress referred to the mechanism by which the gun’s trigger causes bullets to be fired. Policy judgments aside, we are bound to apply that mechanical definition. And applying that definition to a semi-automatic rifle equipped with a non-mechanical bump stock, we conclude that such a weapon is not a machinegun for purposes of the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act.”

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the government’s appeal follows the Sixth Circuit’s similar ruling against the bump stock rule in April. It comes after the Supreme Court’s earlier decisions not to interfere with the rule in 2019 and to reject two appeals by gun owners in 2022. The differing opinions of the appeals courts have led to a divide in judicial interpretation, known as a circuit split.

Robert Leider, George Mason University’s Assistant Professor of Law, stated that the case is less about the Second Amendment and more about how administrative and criminal laws intersect, questioning whether an agency can clarify an ambiguity in a way that expands a statute’s scope for criminal prosecution and whether courts must uphold such interpretations.

Richard Samp, Senior Litigation Counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), expressed satisfaction with the Supreme Court’s decision to address the challenge against the ATF’s extension of the machinegun definition.

NCLA President and General Counsel Mark Chenoweth emphasized that the core issue is not gun rights but the limits of administrative authority. He asserted, “Congress never gave ATF the power to rewrite federal criminal statutes pertaining to machine guns—nor could it. Writing federal criminal laws is the sole preserve of Congress, and the Trump and Biden Administrations committed grievous constitutional error by trying to ban bump stocks without involving Congress.”

This case adds another significant gun law issue to the Supreme Court’s docket. The court is also slated to hear a separate lawsuit challenging the federal law that bars individuals with domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms.