Senate GOP Blocks Bump Stock Ban—After Supreme Court Tosses Trump-Era Policy

Gun Rights

Topline

Senate Republicans blocked legislation Tuesday that would have restored a ban on bump stocks struck down by the Supreme Court last week, rejecting a policy initially backed by the Trump administration to ban devices that cause semiautomatic guns to fire rapidly.

Key Facts

The bill was rejected under a procedure requiring unanimous consent: Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., asked for the Senate’s consent to pass the bill, but at least one Republican, Sen. Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., objected, so the bill was blocked.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made clear earlier Tuesday that GOP senators would block the bill from moving forward, despite some bipartisan support as one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, co-sponsored the bill.

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Republicans who oppose the ban suggested it’s a matter that shouldn’t be subject to federal legislation: Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. called it a “states issue” and Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, questioned whether Congress should be “legislating in a way that solves fake problems?”

Proponents of the ban have argued the devices essentially allow semiautomatic firearms to function as machine guns by repeatedly “bumping” a shooter’s finger against the trigger at high speed.

The Supreme Court, however, disagreed, arguing that firearms equipped with the devices don’t meet the legal definition of a machine gun, which can fire multiple shots with “a single function of the trigger,” so Trump-era executive branch officials didn’t have the authority to ban the devices under the laws passed by Congress.

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Crucial Quote

“There’s no law enforcement application for a bump stock. There’s no military application for a bump stock. There’s no self-defense application for a bump stock. These things are, like, tailor-made for mass shootings,” Heinrich said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

Surprising Fact

The Trump campaign told the Associated Press the Supreme Court’s decision “should be respected” and emphasized Trump’s support for Second Amendment rights in response to the ruling last week.

Tangent

Republicans’ reversal on the bump stock ban comes after the National Rifle Association also walked back its previous opposition to the devices, and filed a brief with the Supreme Court in favor of lifting the restrictions.

Key Background

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives enacted the ban in 2018 after a bump stock was used by the gunman in the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival to fire more than 1,000 bullets in 11 minutes, killing 60 people and injuring more than 850 in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The Supreme Court sided with a Texas gun shop owner, Michael Cargill, who argued the ATF acted outside of the scope of its authority in banning the devices, ruling 6-3 to lift the ban, with the three liberal justices dissenting.

Further Reading

Republicans Poised To Kill Bump Stock Ban—Even After Many Once Supported Restrictions (Forbes)

Bump Stocks: What To Know About Controversy Over Gun Devices As Supreme Court Drops Ban (Forbes)

Bump Stocks Now Legal Again As Supreme Court Strikes Down Trump-Era Gun Device Ban(Forbes)

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