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Tags: alito | sotomayor | guns | las vegas

Alito Says Congress Can Act on Bump Stocks

By    |   Friday, 14 June 2024 01:41 PM EDT

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday said Congress could amend the law to successfully ban bump stocks after the high court ruled, 6-3, to strike down a federal ban on the devices approved by former President Donald Trump and backed by President Joe Biden.

Sonia Sotomayor in a dissenting opinion warned of "deadly consequences" following the decision.

Trump pushed for the ban after a gunman in Las Vegas attacked a country music festival with assault rifles equipped with the accessories in 2017.

"The horrible shooting spree in Las Vegas in 2017 did not change the statutory text or its meaning. That event demonstrated that a semiautomatic rifle with a bump stock can have the same lethal effect as a machinegun, and it thus strengthened the case for amending §5845(b)," Alito wrote. "But an event that highlights the need to amend a law does not itself change the law's meaning.

"There is a simple remedy for the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machineguns," he continued. "Congress can amend the law — and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act."

The ban was challenged by a Texas gun store owner who purchased two bump stocks in 2018 and had to return them after the ban was implemented.

The high court's conservative majority found that the Trump administration overstepped when it changed course from predecessors and banned bump stocks.

The gunman in Las Vegas fired more than 1,000 rounds into the crowd in 11 minutes, sending thousands of people fleeing in terror as hundreds were wounded and dozens were killed in 2017.

"Today, the Court puts bump stocks back in civilian hands," Sotomayor wrote in a dissent joined by fellow liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. "To do so, it casts aside Congress's definition of 'machinegun' and seizes upon one that is inconsistent with the ordinary meaning of the statutory text and unsupported by context or purpose."

The 6-3 majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas found the Justice Department was wrong to declare that bump stocks transformed semiautomatic rifles into illegal machineguns because, he said, they don't "alter the basic mechanics of firing."

"We conclude that [a] semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a 'machinegun' because it does not fire more than one shot 'by a single function of the trigger,' " Thomas wrote in the decision.

Sotomayor, who read her dissent from the bench, rejected that reasoning.

"When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck," she said. "This is not a hard case. All of the textual evidence points to the same interpretation, its interpretation requires six diagrams and an animation to decipher the meaning of the statutory text."

The decision, she added, "enables gun users and manufacturers to circumvent federal law."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Solange Reyner

Solange Reyner is a writer and editor for Newsmax. She has more than 15 years in the journalism industry reporting and covering news, sports and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday said Congress could amend the law to successfully ban bump stocks after the high court ruled, 6-3, to strike down a federal ban on the devices.
alito, sotomayor, guns, las vegas
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Friday, 14 June 2024 01:41 PM
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