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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Biden calls on Congress to ban bump stocks after Supreme Court ruling

Lawmakers punted on bump stock legislation following the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, leaving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to issue regulations overturned Friday by the high court.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The White House urged Congress on Friday to codify a federal ban on bump stocks for semiautomatic firearms just hours after the Supreme Court struck down Trump-era regulations making such accessories illegal.

In a 6-3 ruling Friday, the high court held that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms overstepped its authority with a 2018 regulation placing guns fitted with bump stocks in the same legal category as machine guns. Bump stocks, when attached to semiautomatic firearms, mimic fully automatic fire by using the weapon’s recoil to repeatedly press the user’s finger against the trigger.

The ATF’s now-overturned rule, backed by then-President Donald Trump, came in response to the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting — during which the perpetrator used an arsenal of rifles fitted with bump stocks. The gunman killed 58 people and wounded more than 500.

Though the Supreme Court struck down an executive ban on bump stocks, the justices left the door open for congressional action on the issue.

“There is a simple remedy for the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machineguns,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in a concurring opinion. “Congress can amend the law — and probably would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation.”

President Joe Biden on Friday implored lawmakers to take the court up on that suggestion and take even more decisive action to curb gun violence.

“I call on Congress to ban bump stocks, pass an assault weapons ban, and take additional action to save lives,” the president said in a statement. “Send me a bill and I will sign it immediately.”

Biden also criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling, tying it to what he framed as an effort from extreme Republicans in Congress to muzzle the ATF.

“Today’s decision strikes down an important gun safety regulation,” he said. “Americans should not have to live in fear of this mass devastation.”

Following the Las Vegas shooting, Congress demurred from passing legislation to ban bump stocks — though several lawmakers introduced legislation to do so. Former Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, then House speaker, said at the time that Republicans preferred executive action to restrict access to the devices. Trump concurred, paving the way for the now-scuttled ATF rule.

Congressional Democrats said Friday they were open to codifying a bump stock ban, but that such an effort would need to be bipartisan.

“As I warned the Trump administration at the time, the only way to permanently close this loophole is through legislation,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “Senate Democrats are ready to pass legislation to ban bump stocks, but we will need votes from Senate Republicans.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin agreed, writing in a statement that the Supreme Court ruling “renews a call for Congress to enact further gun safety regulation,” adding that he was “ready to work with any of my Republican colleagues willing to do so.”

Some Republicans, though, celebrated the ruling as a win for small-government conservatism.

“The Supreme Court reminds unelected bureaucrats that they don’t get to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights by rewriting laws they don’t like,” said Utah Senator Mike Lee in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene called the decision a “major victory” for Second Amendment rights.

And Virginia Representative Bob Good, chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said that the Supreme Court “rightly decided that bump stocks do not turn rifles into ‘machine guns.’”

“The government ‘shall not infringe,’” Good wrote, citing the Second Amendment.

The high court did not issue its ruling based on an interpretation of the Second Amendment, rather, they sided with the plaintiff’s complaint that the ATF exceeded its regulatory authority under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Follow @BenjaminSWeiss
Categories / Government, National, Politics, Second Amendment

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