Supreme Court seems split on bump stock ban

By Jen Krausz on
 February 29, 2024

Oral arguments about whether to affirm or strike down a 2018 ban on bump stocks that was put in place by former President Donald Trump after the ATF reclassified the devices as machine guns revealed that justices seemed split on the ban.

Justices spent a lot of time during oral arguments on Wednesday trying to determine exactly how a bump stock works, particularly whether a shooter must push on it repeatedly or just push once and maintain pressure in order to fire multiple rounds.

Prior to a mass shooting in 2018 in which a bump stock was used to kill over 50 people and wound hundreds, the ATF changed its ruling from saying that only some bump stocks turn rifles into machine guns to saying that all bump stocks are machine guns and would be illegal. According to the rule, the devices had to be destroyed or turned over to the ATF.

The second point of concern the justices had is that the rule holds those who purchased bump stocks prior to 2018 criminally liable even though the devices were legal when they purchased them.

The case was brought by a gun store owner who purchased bump stocks legally prior to 2018. He turned them over to the ATF but sued the agency over the rule, which President Joe Biden also supports.