The U.S. Supreme Court Is About To Hear Its Next Major Gun Case

Aiexpress – The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on Wednesday in a case that will determine the legality of civilians purchasing bump stocks. These devices enable shooters to rapidly fire off numerous rounds per minute.

Garland v. Cargill, while not involving Second Amendment arguments, is poised to provide insight into the conservative-leaning Supreme Court’s stance on firearms. This comes in the wake of a significant expansion of gun rights by the court two years ago.

The case involving the bump stock, filed by Mike Cargill, a gun store owner and firearms instructor from Austin, Texas, questions the revised federal regulations implemented by the Trump administration. These regulations banned the use of bump stocks after they were found to have played a significant role in the tragic mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas in 2017. This incident, which resulted in 60 fatalities and over 850 injuries, stands as the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in the history of the United States.

The focus of the case revolves around the question of whether the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) exceeded its jurisdiction by implementing a regulation that prohibits the use of bump stocks.

Bump stocks are designed to slide back and forth, enabling the shooter to utilize the rifle’s recoil to increase the firing speed. By exerting forward pressure with the non-shooting hand and pulling back with the shooting hand, the shooter can effectively engage the trigger, resulting in a faster rate of fire compared to relying solely on their finger muscles.

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The ATF had determined in 2006 that bump stocks without springs were considered legal. However, following the tragic incident in Las Vegas, the Trump administration instructed the bureau to reconsider this classification. Consequently, in 2019, the ATF reclassified bump stocks as modifications that essentially transformed them into machine guns. The criminalization of machine guns has been in effect since the National Firearms Act of 1934.

In South Jordan, Utah, at the Gun Vault store and shooting range, a demonstration is taking place where a bump stock is being attached to a semi-automatic rifle. This accessory gained significant attention and controversy after the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, leading to its subsequent ban.

Cargill voluntarily turned in two bump stocks that they had legally purchased after the ATF revised its definition.

The complaint, filed on his behalf, argues that the power to make bump stocks illegal lies solely with Congress. It highlights the potential consequences of the change, which could result in the criminalization of bump stock owners, estimated to be around 520,000 individuals who legally purchased these devices.

After the tragic Las Vegas shooting, there were several unsuccessful attempts to pass bills that aimed to prohibit the use of bump stocks.

According to Cargill’s complaint, the ATF and the Attorney General went against the democratic process by issuing the Final Rule without seeking input from Congress. The complaint argues that defining crimes is a crucial legislative function that only Congress has the authority to carry out, and even if Congress intended to give up this power, it would not be constitutionally permissible.

The outcome of the case largely depends on how the words are interpreted.

According to federal law, a “machine gun” is classified as a firearm that has the capability to automatically fire multiple shots without the need for manual reloading, all through a single pull of the trigger. The Gun Control Act of 1968 specifically encompasses devices that can modify firearms into machine guns within this definition.

Critics of the ban on bump stocks argue that these devices do not enable automatic fire since the shooter’s finger is still required to physically engage the trigger, and the mechanism itself does not mechanically reset between shots.

According to the Biden administration and gun safety groups, they argue that the initial trigger pull initiates a series of shots that can be considered as automatic fire, as subsequent rounds are dependent on the initial trigger pull.

“The bump stock rule is a matter of common sense,” emphasized Billy Clark, an attorney from Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, during a press conference prior to the hearing. Clark firmly stated, “Bump stocks serve one purpose, to transform semi-automatic weapons into machine guns.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has ruled in favor of Cargill, stating that the federal definition of “machine gun” is ambiguous.

The 5th Circuit is currently the only appeals court that has ruled in favor of challenges to the ATF’s bump stock ban. Unfortunately, challenges to the ban have been unsuccessful in three other federal appeals courts. The Supreme Court has also declined to hear appeals in those cases.

The case, Merrick B. Garland, Attorney General, et al. v. Michael Cargill, could have broader implications for the administration as well. With congressional gridlock, the administration has relied on the ATF’s rulemaking abilities to ban unregulated and untraceable ghost guns. Furthermore, there are reports indicating that the administration is contemplating using its authority to significantly restrict private gun sales.

Garland v. Cargill will be the second gun case heard by the Supreme Court following its significant reinterpretation of the Second Amendment in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen in 2022. In that ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas asserted that any law limiting gun rights must be rooted in a historical tradition of regulation between the enactment of the Bill of Rights in 1791 and the conclusion of the Civil War.

The ruling sparked a wave of legal battles questioning long-standing gun regulations that are still being resolved in court.

In a recent case, USA v. Rahimi, the Supreme Court examined the issue of whether individuals who have been identified as domestic abusers in civil courts are still entitled to Second Amendment protection for their gun rights. However, the court has not yet delivered its verdict on this matter.

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