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Supreme Court examines whether to strike down ban on gun bump stocks

In World
February 29, 2024

Guns are back in focus at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wednesday, Justices heard arguments about the future of bump stocks. Those are the devices that can make semi-automatic rifles fire faster like a machine gun.

Bump stocks were prominently used in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre where in a matter of minutes, more than 400 people were shot.

But the concern didn’t stop with that shooting.

Six years ago, Robert Schentrup’s life changed forever.

“My two sisters, Carmen, and Evelyn were at school that day. and my sister Carmen never came home,” said Schentrup, who now works at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

His sister, Carmen, was killed in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A gunman killed 17 people with an AR15 and Schentrup worries had a bump stock been used, the weapon may have been even more dangerous. That’s because the device allows a semi-automatic rifle to work like a machine gun.

Months after the shooting, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) updated its guidance leading to then-President Donald Trump signing an executive order, making bump stocks illegal.

“[ATF] know how dangerous these devices are, and we should listen to them when they say, ‘Hey, this has no place in America and in our streets,’” said Schentrup.

But not everyone agrees.

“This is much bigger than firearms. To me this is not really a gun case, it’s an administrative case,” said Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works.

Michael Cargill sued over how the ATF handled this ban.

“That’s not right, you don’t have that authority to do that, that should be done through Congress,” said Cargill.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up his concerns. Justices are also examining whether a bump stock device makes a machine gun.

In audio from Wednesday’s arguments, his attorney claimed there’s nothing automatic about a gun modified with a bump stock.

“It’s human effort, human exertion, nothing automatic at all about this process,” said Jonathan Mitchell who is representing Michael Cargill.

But the Biden administration pushed back.

“What the district court found is you could replace your trigger finger with a little plastic post to the bump stock and it would work in exactly the same way,” said Brian Fletcher, principal deputy solicitor general, Department of Justice.

The justices are expected to issue a decision in this case by the end of June.

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