Supreme Court loads docket with two more gun rights cases

Gun Rights

The Supreme Court on Friday loaded its docket with two new gun rights cases, one over the federal government’s move to ban bump stocks and the other a dispute over New York state insurance regulators’ alleged hostility toward the National Rifle Association.

The bump stock case came to the court after the federal government appealed a ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ categorization of  “bump stocks” as “machine guns.”

President Donald Trump’s administration, through the ATF, moved to prohibit bump stocks after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting in which a gunman used the device to shoot more than 500 people in 11 minutes. Sixty people died.

The ATF’s 2018 rule cited Congress’ law restricting ownership of machine guns manufactured after 1986. Congress banned machine guns in 1934 with the National Firearms Act, and bump stocks when attached to a firearm make nearly any gun a machine gun.

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The government’s rule was challenged by a man who turned over his bump stocks to the government during the rulemaking process and later sued.

The high court had previously declined to review the legality of a bump stock ban at least three times.

The other legal battle granted review on Friday came out of New York and was brought by the National Rifle Association.

The group says state regulators, specifically the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, Maria Vullo, targeted insurance companies that did business with NRA members because New York officials had an animus toward the pro-gun group. The state opened investigations into certain insurance companies that were in business with NRA members, according to the gun advocacy group’s filing.

The lower court ruled for the state official, citing qualified immunity, and said the NRA had failed to plead a First Amendment claim.

The issue before the high court is not over the Second Amendment but instead focuses on the First Amendment rights of the NRA not to be discriminated against by the government based on its pro-gun views and political speech and advocacy.

In both cases, it took at least four justices to vote in favor of reviewing the lower court’s decision.

The cases are Garland v. Cargill and National Rifle Association v. Maria Vullo.

Oral argument dates have not been scheduled.

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